18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Yet this summer he is a conflicted man. New Zealand by birth, Irish by the grace of passing the entrance exam he wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to rugby.
IrishRugby.ie has asked Jarrod to prepare a guide for those supporters travelling to the Land of the Long White Cloud to support Ireland.
The Summer Tour
Ireland take on New Zealand in three tests this summer, for some of the players it will be the second visit to the far flung country in less than a year with the Rugby World Cup being held there in 2011.
Away tours are always tough and this one will be no different, once more the lads will be hoping to achieve history by beating the local side. For those lucky enough to be at the games, whether you live in New Zealand at the moment or are visiting three great games of rugby await you.
Supporters can expect low to mid teen temperatures during the day with cold crisp evenings so don't forget to wrap up in green when heading to the ground!
The Irish Rugby Supporters club allocation sold out pretty quickly but at the time of writing there were still tickets on public sale for the Auckland and Hamilton fixtures, visit www.ticketmaster.co.nz and www.ticketdirect.co.nz for details.
Known as the city of sails and host to the first test of the 2012 summer tour.
The inner city was regenerated for the Rugby World Cup, head down to the waterfront for a wide rage of bars, hotels and restaurants, the main transport hub 'Britomart' is based there also.
Eden Park is located just 3kms from the CBD, much like Aviva Stadium it is in a residential area so parking restrictions are in place.
The best option is to use the free train service (just show your match ticket) from Britomart. Trains run every 5-15 minutes from 4.35pm to 6.45pm (kick-off is 7.35pm). After the game take the train back to Britomart, trains will run up to 10.55pm on Saturday evening.
While in Auckland be sure to take the ferry across to Devonport. A village that is home to a naval base and a number of restaurants, cafes and bars. It also has grass areas along the water front for sitting out to take in Auckland from 'the other side'.
For those who have access to a car, head up to Whangaparaoa, just 25kms north of the city, home to beautiful beaches it's a good spot for a day trip or even overnight.
The south island city will host the second test of the tour; the AMI stadium may have been damaged in the quake however international rugby returns to the region with this test.
The game is sure to be emotional for the rugby mad locals, while a lot of the city centre was destroyed (and what remains is hidden behind the red zone) the people of Canterbury are looking forward to welcoming the green army.
Planning the rebuild of a city centre takes time, businesses are not letting this get in the way of getting things back on track. If you thought shipping containers were only used to carry freight think again!
A number of 'pop up' retail and hospitality areas are now open around he Cashel Street area , these contain free wifi and alfresco café dining - well worth a visit!
Many restaurants not destroyed have relocated to the suburbs to continue their business. Addington has emerged as a new spot for local live entertainment along with bars and restaurants. The Rugby League Ground where this test will be played is also located there.
The fourth largest city in New Zealand, Hamilton will host the third and final test of this summer tour.
The city is 130 kilometres from Auckland and is worth a visit if even for just the night of the game.
Another hotbed region of rugby, the province is Waikato and their Super 15 franchise is the Chiefs. The game on Saturday 23 June will be played at the 26,000 seater Waikato Stadium (also known as Rugby Park).
The city centre has, over the last few years become a cosmopolitan array of restaurants, bars and shops. The Waikato river is the largest of its kind in the coutnry and winds its way through the city centre giving a pleasant backdrop even in winter.
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan you should try and visit the village created especially for the movies by driving east to Matamata. If you have a car you may also want to visit the Waitomo Caves, popular tourist attractions with people of all ages. Take in the glow worms or perhaps some black water rafting!
Wednesday on IrishRugby.ie: New Zealand legend Sean Fitzpatrick and former Ireland flanker Alan Quinlan preview the three Tests.
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