Rugby Championship: All Blacks coach Ian Foster eagerly anticipating first Springboks clash on confirmed schedule

All Blacks coach Ian Foster is chomping at the bit for his first tilt at world champions South Africa, after confirmation of this year's Rugby Championship schedule.

The former assistant under Sir Steve Hansen was elevated to the lead role last year, when he managed just three wins and a draw from six games, including New Zealand's first test loss to Argentina.

That pressure will ramp up another notch with the Springboks returning from their COVID-enforced hiatus, restoring the 2021 international tournament to four teams.

"Can't wait," says Foster. "It's always been a very, very special game for us and all the numbers point to this one being even more special."

The next meeting between the two rugby rivals will be the 100th - New Zealand have won 59 - and this year marks the 100th anniversary of their first meeting in Dunedin.

Fittingly, they will bring up the ton at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium on September 25.

"That's going to be a pretty momentous occasion," says Foster. "They're the current world champions, they would have come off a Lions series and to bring them back into the fold here is pretty special."

The Springboks loom as Foster's biggest test as head coach. Last time the two sides met, the All Blacks overcame South Africa 23-13 in their 2019 World Cup opener at Yokohama.

"There are few little hurdles to climb before that, so I'll save that worry for later," he admits. "But All Blacks-South Africa tests are special and we really missed them last year.

"I know, for the players, there's always a huge level of tension and excitement about it. Having them for two weeks here will be pretty special."

NZ Rugby has now lined up 14 tests for the All Blacks, with Tonga and Fiji (twice) looming in July, and Wales, Ireland, Italy and France scheduled for the northern tour later this year.


All Blacks v Australia, August 7 at Auckland


South Africa v Argentina, August 14, in South Africa (venue tbc)

Australia v All Blacks, August 21 at Perth

Argentina v South Africa, August 21 in South African (venue tbc)

All Blacks v Australia, August 28 at Wellington

All Blacks v Argentina, September 11 at Auckland

South Africa v Australia, September 11 in Australia (venue tbc)

All Blacks v Argentina, September 18 at Wellington

Australia v South Africa, September 18 in Australia (venue tbc)

All Blacks v South Africa, September 25 at Dunedin

Australia v Argentina, September 25 in Australia (venue tbc)

All Blacks v South Africa, October 2 at Auckland

Australia v Argentina, October 2 in Australia (venue tbc)