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All Blacks face France in first 2013 home Test

WELLINGTON (AFP) –

The All Blacks kick off their 2013 home schedule with a rerun of last year's World Cup final as they host France in June

This file photo shows France’s Alexis Palisson being tackled by New Zealand All Blacks captain Richie McCaw during the 2011 Rugby World Cup final match at Eden Park Stadium in Auckland, last October. The All Blacks kick off their 2013 home schedule with a rerun of last year’s World Cup final as they host France at the same venue in June.

The All Blacks kick off their 2013 home schedule with a rerun of last year’s World Cup final as they host France at the same venue in June.

Unveiling their fixture for the new year, New Zealand revealed they will face last year’s runners up in a three-match Test, starting on June 8 at Auckland’s Eden Park, then in Christchurch on June 15 and New Plymouth a week later.

The All Blacks then play Australia in Wellington (August 24), Argentina in Hamilton (September 7) and South Africa in Auckland (September 14) to defend the Rugby Championship they won this year.

They end the home season with a Bledisloe Cup tie against Australia in Dunedin on October 19.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said the mercurial French promised to provide a stern challenge for the All Blacks as they seek to avenge last year’s 8-7 defeat.

“I am sure fans will be especially excited about France returning to Eden Park on June 8 for their first match-up with the All Blacks since that pulsating encounter … last October,” he said.

Tew said it was the first time New Zealand had hosted seven home Tests since 2008.

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