South Island venues 'can't handle' British and Irish Lions Tests - NZ Rugby boss

Auckland will play host to two of three Tests during the British and Irish Lions tour in 2017, New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew confirmed today in Wellington.

Eden Park will host the All Blacks and Lions twice, on June 24 and July 8, with Wellington picking up the only other Test on July 1. 

The news comes as a blow to fans around the South Island's traditional Test venues, with Christchurch's AMI Stadium left out. The city hosted the first Test of the Lions' 2005 tour to New Zealand. 

"You've got to be realistic," Tew said. "We cannot host a British and Irish Lions Test in Christchurch with the stadium that's there.

"It's just not up to this level of fixture."

Despite the views of most people that live south of here, it would be a considerable struggle for Dunedin to cope with the logistics of the hordes of fans that are travelling. - NZ Rugby boss Steve Tew

The only Lions games played in the south will be against the Crusaders and Highlanders on June 10 and 13.

The 10-match tour, which opens with a game against a combined provincial XV in Whangarei, will also see the Lions pitted against New Zealand's three other Super Rugby franchises as well as the Maori All Blacks.

Richie McCaw of the Crusaders warms up as a reserve during the Investec Super Rugby game between the Crusaders v Reds at AMI Stadium i Christchurch. 8 May 2015 Photo: Joseph Johnson/www.photosport.co.nz
Christchurch's AMI Stadium hosts a Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and Chiefs. Source: Photosport

The Lions' last tour to New Zealand was 10 years ago under World Cup-winning England coach Sir Clive Woodward, where they were whitewashed 3-0 by the All Blacks.

The Lions have lost four successive Test series against New Zealand, with their last series victory coming in 1971.

British and Irish Lions 2017 tour fixtures:

June 3 - provincial union XV, Whangarei

June 7 - Blues, Auckland

June 10 - Crusaders, Christchurch

June 13 - Highlanders, Dunedin

June 17 - Maori All Blacks, Rotorua

June 20 - Chiefs, Hamilton

June 24 - New Zealand, first Test, Auckland

June 27 - Hurricanes, Wellington

July 1 - New Zealand, second Test, Wellington

July 8 - New Zealand, third Test, Auckland.


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Ryan Crotty admits All Blacks underutilised kicking game in loss to South Africa

All Blacks midfielder Ryan Crotty admitted an area his side failed to utilise in their loss to the Springboks was their kicking game.

The 30-year-old said at a press conference overnight in Argenitna that keeping the ball in hand during their Rugby ChampionshipTest match in Wellington a fortnight ago put them under more pressure.

"I think potentially...we could have kicked a little bit more," Crotty said.

"(We) could have put them under a little bit more pressure. We held the ball a lot and created some opportunities."

The All Blacks went down 36-34 at Westpac Stadium, in a match that went right down to the wire.

"They made a lot of tackles, but potentially we could have put them under pressure in other ways," Crotty said.

The All Blacks are in Argentina, where they take on the Pumas in Buenos Aires on Sunday at José Amalfitani Stadium.

Ryan Crotty.
New Zealand All Blacks v South Africa Springboks. Rugby Championship test match. Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand. Saturday 15 September 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
All Blacks midfielder Ryan Crotty in action against the Springboks in Wellington. Source: Photosport


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Revitalised by Springboks loss, All Blacks 'jumping out of their skin' for Argentina Test

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster revealed that there was a new revitalised energy at training amongst the team, ahead of their Sunday Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

After reviewing their 36-34 loss to the Springboks a fortnight ago in Wellington, Foster said the players were eager to correct their mistakes.

"I think everyone was jumping out of their skin to get onto the training park and have a good blowout today," said Foster.

"Two or three days of recovering and our normal processes of reviewing and planning, a bit of added spice to it from our last game."

Argentina will have a lot of confidence going into Sunday's Test, after defeating Australia 23-19 in the Gold Coast two weeks ago.

"We try to keep our processes as consistent as possible because what we are trying to do is review a performance, not just a result," Foster said.

The ABs assistant coach says there is a new energy in the team following their upset. Source: All Blacks TV

"It does add a little bit when you come off a poor performance and the fact that that performance equated to a loss is a bit of a double whammy."

The All Blacks need a bonus point victory against the Pumas this weekend to secure the Rugby Championship title for a third consecutive year.

"We've pulled a few things apart and we are pretty happy as to where we have got to," Foster said.

Argentina defeated the Springboks last month 32-19 in Mendoza but were outclassed 46-24 by the All Blacks the last time they met at Trafalgar Park in Nelson earlier this month.

Jack Goodhue of the All Blacks fends off Tomas Lezana of Argentina during a Rugby Championship match, All Blacks V Argentina , Trafalgar Park, Nelson, New Zealand, 8th September, 2018. Copyright photo: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz
Jack Goodhue of the All Blacks fends off Tomas Lezana of Argentina during a Rugby Championship match in Nelson. Source: Photosport


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England can overtake All Blacks 'within a year' says John Mitchell

Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell believes that England can overtake New Zealand in less than 12 months, having recently joined Eddie Jones' coaching set-up.

Having been in charge of the All Blacks in an ill-fated stint from 2001-03, 54-year old Mitchell now finds himself as England's defence coach, and will take on old team in November.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mitchell says that beating the All Blacks is a key motivator for his new side, but says that it can happen in less than 12 months.

"I really believe that England can get better and be the best within a year's time. I really do believe that. Why? Because of what I've seen in the past."

"They [the All Blacks] are outstanding, but I guess what gives us all life is that it is a World Cup year and a World Cup does close the gap.

"It's knockout rugby and you just need to focus on being the better team yourself.

"New Zealand have set the benchmark and sent out the signal to all of us – 'you come and get us'."

Conrad Smith against England Source: Photosport


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'Never give up until your time is finished' - Israel Dagg still dreaming of All Blacks recall

Former All Black Israel Dagg says he refuses to believe his time in the black jersey is over, after falling down the pecking order in Steve Hansen's side.

Dagg, 30, is currently in the middle of a stint with the Canon Eagles in Japan, appearing to be behind the likes of Rieko Ioane, Ben Smith, Jordie Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo in the reckoning for a spot in the All Blacks' back three.

Speaking to Stuff though, Dagg says that he's confident of adding to his 66 Tests, having this year won a second straight Super Rugby title with the Crusaders.

"You never give up until your time is finished in New Zealand. I'll go back to Christchurch next year and give it one last whirl and if it works out, it works out," Dagg said.

"It's pretty competitive in the back three, especially in my position, so we'll see how it goes. I've just got to start playing well for the Crusaders and hopefully things take care of themselves."

With less than a year until the next World Cup in Japan, Dagg also says that he's using the memory of 2015 as motivation, having been overlooked for Steve Hansen's squad for the England tournament.

"It does light a bit of fire in the belly. I hold no grudges, [missing the 2015 Rugby World Cup] was a long time ago. Being a family man now, you kind of can deal with things a lot easier now. Whatever happens, happens. I'll go back to New Zealand and give it my best."

Dagg is yet to feature for the Canon Eagles due to a calf injury, but is available to make his debut on Sunday against the Coca-Cola Red Sparks.

Israel Dagg Source: Getty


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