NZ dumped as Australia takes over Rugby Championship
In a major coup for Rugby Australia, The Rugby Championship is being moved from New Zealand to Australia, it has been confirmed.
Originally scheduled to take place across The Tasman, the tournament organisers SANZAAR said the competition had been moved because Australia was "the most desirable" option of the two countries.
"SANZAAR ultimately determined that based on government-required quarantine protocols [for entry and training prior to the tournament] and commercial underwriting, the Rugby Australia submission was the most desirable and workable in terms of tournament logistics for the essential pre-tournament preparation period and the six-week tournament itself," SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos stated.
The match schedule has not yet been finalised but the four-nation tournament - featuring Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina - will take place over six rounds, each double headers, from November 7 to December 12.
The Daily Telegraph understands most of the matches will be played in New South Wales, with the exception of one double-header in Brisbane.
"Firstly, I want to thank our SANZAAR partners for their support and their cooperation in making this tournament possible," Rugby Australia interim Chief Executive Rob Clarke said:
"I also want to thank our government partners, particularly the New South Wales Government who have backed us to secure the tournament and they will be delighted to hear of SANZAAR's support. We will now knuckle down to make these plans a reality."
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said the Kiwis had still wanted to host the championship.
"We're obviously disappointed at the decision to not have New Zealand host the tournament, but we understand and accept it. Now that the decision has been made, we're looking forward to seeing the All Blacks again take on the best of the Southern Hemisphere," Robinson said.
"We worked incredibly hard behind the scenes with a whole range of stakeholders, including SANZAAR and the New Zealand Government, to ensure we were ready and able to host the Championship and we felt we were."
As a consolation, the two Bledisloe Cup matches due to be played in Australia in October will now be switched to New Zealand with the dates and venues still to be confirmed.
But the main event will be held in Australia.
"We are delighted that SANZAAR can, at last, confirm the participants and host country for The Rugby Championship and put an end to the continued speculation about the tournaments' format and location," Marinos said.
"Traditionally TRC is played as an international, cross-border series of home and away matches between Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa but due to the pandemic this is obviously not possible this year.
"We have, therefore, worked very hard as a group to ensure TRC takes place this year, albeit in one country, and SANZAAR was meticulous in assessing the two options for hosting presented to it by New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia".
Marinos, however, issued a word of caution about South Africa's participation, saying the world champion Springboks were still yet to be confirmed because of government regulations.
"The progress and impact of the pandemic has varied from country-to-country and international sporting competition is currently suspended in South Africa," he said.
"The Springboks' participation will be dependent on the relaxation of that suspension as well as overcoming a number of other logistical challenges including the opening of international air borders. South Africa is only expected to return to competitive play next month [October], leaving a relatively short time to prepare.
"We are cognisant of the fact that the COVID pandemic environment continues to change and throw up obstacles but we are confident that our plans are robust and we will naturally build in contingency measures to suit any further changes."
Originally published as NZ dumped as Australia takes over Rugby Championship