Three All Blacks legends call for NZ-SA tours to return

Jeff Wilson (Getty Images)
Jeff Wilson (Getty Images)

Three All Blacks legends Jeff Wilson, John Kirwan and Justin Marshall believe a return to international tours will help boost rugby on a global level after the coronavirus crisis.

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Speaking on Sky Sports New Zealand's The Breakdown show on Tuesday, Wilson brought up the idea of returning to old-school international tours with midweek fixtures against provincial teams.

"I look at this as a massive opportunity for not just players but for everyone, fans in particular," Wilson, who played 60 Tests between 1993 and 2001, said.

He added: "Surely there would be a hunger to see South Africa come back to New Zealand and play a three-Test series?

"I look at '93, my first tour for the All Blacks. It's an incredibly special time. I think it was nine or 10 games we played together and I played all but one."

His argument was backed by both Kirwan and Marshall.

Kirwan, who played 63 Tests between 1984 and 1994, commented: "When I talk about this I always talk about tribalism and tradition. Why is the Lions so successful? Because we look forward to it. When I was growing up I wanted to go on a grand slam. They actually stopped the grand slams just before I made the team.

"But for me touring for me was amazing. The Test matches were great and you wanted to make the Test match weekends. But midweek and you'd go to [places such as] Llanelli and it was amazing."

Marshall, an 81-Test veteran between 1995 and 2005, added: "Let's think about the modern-day player and some of our more established, senior All Blacks.

"It's quite repetitive for them, even the international games. All of a sudden you throw into the mix, like when they (the All Blacks) played Munster a few years ago (in 2007), which was an outstanding success. Those sorts of things are vibrant for the current professional players, who do get a lot of repetition in their rugby."

The last time the Springboks and All Blacks played against each other in a three-Test series was in South Africa in 1996, when the visitors won 2-1.

Both Marshall and Wilson featured on that tour, which was the first time New Zealand won a Test series on South African shores.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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