WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The All Blacks will play tests against Australia and South Africa at home before this year’s Rugby World Cup but have had to make way for women’s soccer to confirm dates and venues.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand in July and August and so soccer has taken priority in booking New Zealand stadiums during the months in which the Southern Hemisphere-based Rugby Championship will be played.
Even Auckland’s Eden Park, which is regarded as the headquarters of New Zealand Rugby, will be unavailable to the All Blacks, the famous men’s national team in New Zealand’s national sport.
Instead, their July 15 Rugby Championship match against South Africa will be played at Mt. Smart Stadium, home of the New Zealand Warriors rugby league club.
The All Blacks’ second Bledisloe Cup test against Australia’s Wallabies will be played at Dunedin’s indoor stadium on Aug. 5. Dunedin will only host group matches at the women’s World Cup and that stage will be over before the rugby test is played.
FIFA’s strict rules around stadium usage before soccer World Cup matches means Eden Park, which hosted the 1987 and 2011 Rugby World Cup finals, can’t be used for the All Blacks’ test against South Africa’s world champion Springboks.
The All Blacks and Springboks also will meet at Twickenham in England on Aug. 25 in a truncated Rugby Championship.
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