All Blacks on ice in revamp

WELLINGTON: Players from New Zealand’s top rugby team, the All Blacks, will no longer take part in their country’s domestic competitions under a sweeping reorganisation of the sport unveiled in Auckland yesterday. 

The New Zealand Rugby Union will now attempt to schedule more “high-quality” Test matches, believing regular games against top nations will be “beneficial for the development of All Blacks rugby”. 

Union chairman Jock Hobbs announced the changes at a news conference yesterday, saying the proposals were made following an intense, nine-month review of New Zealand’s domestic and international structures. 

New Zealand’s decision to press for more Test matches, particularly against “tier-one” nations such as world champions England, follows their expressed support this week for a new Nine Nations international competition. 

That biennial series, involving Sanzar partners New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and Six Nations competitors England, France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy was suggested on Monday by Australian Rugby Union chief John O’Neil. – AP 

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