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.
The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) have confirmed the dates and venues for Ireland's two summer tour Test matches against the All Blacks next June.
Eddie O'Sullivan's side will lock horns with New Zealand again on Saturday, June 10, 2006 at the Waikato Stadium (capacity 26,350) in Hamilton. It will be the 19th ever clash between the nations - the All Blacks have won 17 so far with Ireland's only saving grace being 1973's 10-10 draw at Lansdowne Road.
Graham Henry's side ran in five tries to Ireland's one in the All Blacks' 45-7 win at Lansdowne Road last month.
The following Saturday, June 17 will see Auckland's Eden Park (capacity 45,576) ground play host to the second Test between New Zealand and Ireland. Kick-off times are to be confirmed.
Following the second Test, Ireland will move to Australia for their June 24 date with the Wallabies at the Subiaco Oval in Perth. The All Blacks, as per the IRB International Matches and Tours Schedule, will travel to Buenos Aires to play Argentina in a one-off Test match on June 24.
Two weeks after the Pumas fixture, the All Blacks begin their Tri Nations title defence when they put the Bledisloe Cup on the line against Australia in Christchurch on Saturday, July 8.
Ireland have played once previously at Eden Park - a 45,000 crowd watched the All Blacks beat Ireland 40-8 in the 2002 summer tour's second Test match. Gary Longwell scored a try and Ronan O'Gara landed a penalty for O'Sullivan's side.
Ireland have never played a Test match in Hamilton before, but the 2005 British & Irish Lions did face the New Zealand Maori there on June 11 last. Despite a try from Ireland and Lions tour captain Brian O'Driscoll, the Lions went down to a 19-13 defeat - their first ever loss at the hands of the Maori. Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy, Paul O'Connell, Shane Horgan, Ronan O'Gara and Shane Byrne - the latter three as substitutes - all earned game-time at the Waikato Stadium.
Ticket details for Ireland's 2006 summer tour Test matches will be released shortly.