Wales may play midweek games on NZ rugby tour

Rugby tours are likely to be back in New Zealand in 2010.

Since the game went professional, the public have yearned for the old tours instead of the conveyer belt of meaningless one-off tests against second-string teams.

But that's all set to change when European champions Wales make the trip here in 18 months. The Welsh and New Zealand unions are in talks for Wales to play midweek games on their two-test tour.

WRU CEO Roger Lewis and NZRU boss Steve Tew have begun talking about midweek games and more progress will be made in the New Year.

"We are at the earliest stage possible," Tew told Sunday News.

"He (Lewis) mentioned it to me when I was in Cardiff a couple of weeks ago and I've only been back in the country a couple of days and haven't taken it any further. I'm waiting for him to summarise our discussions."

But Tew said he favoured the idea of tours coming back on the agenda.

"Absolutely, I think it's got some real merit," he said. "But we've yet to give it any more thought on who they would play, the arrangements to make or how it would work. But it's certainly something we're keen to have a look at."

Wales have toured New Zealand twice, in 1969 when they played five games, including two tests, and in 1988. Neither trip was successful for Wales. In 1969 they drew the opening game against Taranaki 9-9, before losing to the All Blacks 19-0.

Wales then beat Otago 27-9 and Wellington 14-6 but went down in the second test 33-12. In 1988 they lost to Waikato and Wellington before beating Otago 15-13 and were then thrashed in the first test 52-3 at Lancaster Park.

This was followed by a 45-18 win over Hawke's Bay, another draw against Taranaki and a 27-9 loss to North Auckland. The tour wrapped up with another hiding from the All Blacks, 54-9 at Eden Park.

Lewis also confirmed the All Blacks will face Warren Gatland's men at the Millennium Stadium in 2009 and 2010, with next year's fixture being a huge money spinner for the NZRU. The test will be played on November 7, which falls outside the official international window and allow the NZRU to negotiate an appearance fee.

Sunday News