Rugby-Ireland to play Maori All Blacks in mid-week clashes

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - England v Ireland - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - March 12, 2022 Ireland coach Andy Farrell and assistant coach Mike Catt during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

(Reuters) - Ireland will play the Maori All Blacks in two mid-week matches during their three-test tour, New Zealand Rugby said on Tuesday.

Ireland will meet the representative team in Hamilton on June 29, three days before they kick off their regular All Blacks series at Eden Park.

The second Maori All Blacks clash will be in Wellington on July 12.

"The Maori All Blacks will provide a stern test of our squad strength and depth," Ireland coach Andy Farrell said in a statement.

"They are effectively a test match side that have a proud tradition and impressive record of results."

Ireland have played the Maori All Blacks twice in over 130 years, losing both matches.

They were beaten 13-4 by the team formerly known as the New Zealand Natives at Lansdowne Road in Dublin in 1888.

Their last meeting was in 2010 at Rotorua International Stadium where the Maori All Blacks won a 31-28 thriller.

"Our rivalry goes back more than 100 years and that will only add to the occasion," said Maori All Blacks coach Clayton McMillan.

"To play the world’s fourth-ranked team in a two-match series is an exciting prospect and we expect both games to be huge challenges."

Ireland meet the regular All Blacks in Auckland (July 2), Dunedin (July 9) and Wellington (July 16).

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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