Great Britain

All Blacks to play in front of biggest crowd in three years with Wales test sold out

Aaron Smith runs with the ball during the All Blacks' last test with Wales in Cardiff in 2017. They will play before a capacity crowd there on October 31.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Aaron Smith runs with the ball during the All Blacks' last test with Wales in Cardiff in 2017. They will play before a capacity crowd there on October 31.

The All Blacks will play before 74,500 Welsh rugby fans in the first capacity crowd in Cardiff since the Covid-19 pandemic.

All tickets have been snapped up for the October 31 clash.

“The first capacity occasion to return to Cardiff’s Principality Stadium since the pandemic began, has sold-out,’’ the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) announced in a statement.

It said “there won’t be a spare seat in the house’’ for the All Blacks’ first visit to Wales for four years.

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It will be the biggest crowd that the All Blacks have played in front of anywhere since a 16-15 win over England in 2018 before 82,149 fans at Twickenham.

The All Blacks last played in Cardiff in 2017 when they beat Wales 33-18.

The sell-out – six weeks before kickoff – demonstrates the All Blacks’ pulling power as Wales will be without some leading players based with English clubs because the match falls outside the official international window.

All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock collects the trophy after Wales-All Blacks test in 2017.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock collects the trophy after Wales-All Blacks test in 2017.

The All Blacks have traditionally been a box office draw at Cardiff’s showpiece stadium, rated one of world rugby’s most atmospheric venues.

They have attracted crowds of up to 75,000 there in 10 visits since the central city stadium was built for the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

The Wales test will be the second of the All Blacks’ northern hemisphere tour.

They open with a game against the United States in Washington DC on October 24 (NZ time) before moving onto Cardiff.

Ian Foster’s team then play Italy in Rome on November 6 and Ireland in Dublin on November 14 before ending their tour with a November 20 test against 2023 Rugby World Cup hosts France in Paris.

Sporting crowds in Britain have been limited due to the pandemic, due to social distancing restrictions.

Twickenham – with a capacity of 82,000 – was only allowed to be half-full for England’s July test against the United States.

But crowd restrictions have now been removed.

osh Navidi of Wales attempts to break through the All Blacks’ defence in 2017.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

osh Navidi of Wales attempts to break through the All Blacks’ defence in 2017.

Wales will play four consecutive home games, starting with the All Blacks, and interest is high for all.

A WRU ticket office spokesman told Wales Online: “We are incredibly pleased with the response from Welsh supporters.

Wales’ November 6 home game against world champions South Africa is also potentially heading towards a sell-out, with ticket sales tracking above the All Blacks’ fixture in the last fortnight.

The WRU has also said the November 14 fixture with Fiji, which sold-out when the teams met in Cardiff during the 2015 Rugby World Cup – was “in high demand’’.

Wales will also play Australia on November 20.

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