French Barbarians to play Crusaders, Highlanders

The Barbarians will tour New Zealand at the same time as the French national side in June

The French Barbarians will play the Canterbury Crusaders and Otago Highlanders in New Zealand in June at the same time as the touring French national team face the All Blacks, New Zealand Rugby said Tuesday.

NZR said a French Barbarians selection would play the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday, June 15, and the Highlanders in Invercargill on Friday, June 22.

The matches coincide with Les Bleus' tour of New Zealand, which features Tests against the world champion All Blacks on June 9, 16, and 23.

The Crusaders are the reigning Super Rugby champions and should push the Barbarians, while the Highlanders beat the touring British and Irish Lions in a warm-up match last year.

"We have no doubt that fans will thrive on the opportunity to see their clubs come up against international opposition," NZR chief rugby officer Nigel Cass said.

"As we have seen over a number of matches against international sides over the past several years, our clubs are more than capable of footing it against international sides so these fixtures promise to be exciting."

The French Barbarians defeated the Maori All Blacks 19-15 in Bordeaux last November.