The Canterbury coaching group are preparing their squad to take on the world’s best when the All Blacks hit Christchurch next month.
The All Blacks will play the Cantabrians and Otago in a Game of Three Halves on Friday 10 August 2018 at AMI Stadium. This is the first time the popular event, which is used to prepare the All Blacks for the Investec Rugby Championship, has come to the Mainland and ticket prices have been kept low for families to take advantage of.
Canterbury Head Coach Joe Maddock said the event is a great training opportunity for the team ahead of the Mitre 10 Cup.
“We’ll have some of the best club players, who have been turning up week in and week out, marking the world’s best. If a young player gets the opportunity to mark a 50 cap All Black and holds their own, they could take a huge amount of confidence from that. This game could be the launching pad of many successful careers, which is an exciting prospect for us as coaches.”
Reuben Thorne, who has joined Canterbury this season as the Forwards Coach, hopes the public will take the opportunity to see the All Blacks in the city.
“We obviously won’t have a test match here for a while, for reasons outside of our control, but it’s great the All Blacks are still supporting Christchurch and Canterbury and that fans down here will have the chance to see them play.”
The All Blacks, Otago and Canterbury teams will remain on the pitch after the Game of Three Halves to sign autographs and take photos with supporters.
Maddock and Thorne, who played together for Canterbury and the Crusaders from 2001 until 2003, also see the event as a huge development opportunity for them personally, as coaches. Both said they never dreamed during their playing careers that one day they would be coaching a team against the All Blacks.
“The game will not be televised, so to see it – you must be there in person”ChristchurchNZ Destination and Attraction General Manager - Loren Heaphy
“We get to coach against the best coaches in the world, which will be a fantastic learning experience for us” Maddock said.
Thorne said: “This is a unique game and a really special occasion. For some of these club players it will be the closest they ever get to playing a test match, and that’s very cool.
“This is going to be a great lead-in for us to the Mitre 10 Cup. It will really prepare the squad well, physically and mentally,” said Thorne.
Game of Three Halves is the only concrete opportunity for locals to see the All Blacks play in the city for at least the next two years, with no All Black test matches scheduled in Christchurch in 2018 and 2019. Canterbury Rugby Football Union, ChristchurchNZ, V-Base and the Christchurch Stadium Trust worked together to secure the event for the city and a lot of planning is already underway for the match.
ChristchurchNZ Destination and Attraction General Manager Loren Heaphy says the game’s early start time and the reasonable ticket prices make it a great night out for families.
“All three teams will meet with fans for autographs and photos for 30 minutes after the final whistle. What a great chance for kids to meet their rugby heroes in person and get a pic – and you don’t get an opportunity like that at a test match.
“The game will not be televised, so to see it – you must be there in person,” Heaphy said.
• Tickets for the game are $5 for children and $20 for adults and available at www.ticketdirect.co.nz