A potential test series decider will be on the cards for Taranaki fans after the New Zealand Rugby Union confirmed yesterday the All Blacks will play France at Yarrow Stadium in June.
Confirmation comes seven months after the Taranaki Daily News broke the news that the All Blacks would return to the province three years after last hosting an All Blacks test.
The test, the third in the series, will be played on June 22 after the sides have met at Eden Park and Christchurch's AMI Stadium.
It is just the third test the All Blacks will have played in the province after sell-out crowds made their way to Yarrow Stadium to watch a second-string Samoa side get walloped in 2008 and Ireland get thumped in 2010.
"It's a fantastic opportunity for the Taranaki community to get behind our All Blacks and embrace the highest level of rugby in the world," Taranaki Rugby chief executive Neil Pennington said.
Tickets for the match will be at a premium, with fans from surrounding districts likely to make the trip to Taranaki for the test.
Local fans will be able to get first crack at tickets by buying season tickets for Taranaki's 2013 season when they go on sale early next month.
Pennington said the ability to offer the test match as part of the union's season ticket package was likely to have a significant impact on sales at a time the union was contemplating a marketing campaign without the Ranfurly Shield.
Those not wanting to take up a season ticket will have to wait a couple of months until tickets to the test go on sale to the general public.
Pennington stressed the bid they made to the NZRU in April last year to host a test match was a joint one between Taranaki Rugby, the New Plymouth District Council and Venture Taranaki.
The major events fund, which the district council contributes $850,000 to annually, was also used to help attract a test to New Plymouth.
"It's a win for Taranaki on many levels - economic impact, vibrancy of our community, and addressing the biggest fundamental challenge facing our region - that of recruiting and retaining talented people," Venture Taranaki chief executive Stuart Trundle said.
"Staging a rematch of the Rugby World Cup 2011 final in Taranaki will further establish Taranaki as a major events destination."
Although it was too early to confirm, Pennington expected the All Blacks would spend at least five days in the province in the lead-up to the test. Capacity at Yarrow Stadium would be increased through temporary seating from 23,000 to 25,500.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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