Bledisloe Cup clashes bookend Rugby Champs

Rugby

Bledisloe Cup Tests will bookend the four-nation 2020 Rugby Championship, which kicks off in Brisbane on Nov. 7 with the schedule released by SANZAAR on Thursday.

The tournament, involving Australia, New Zealand, world champions South Africa and Argentina, will be be played as six double-header fixtures, with the last to be played on Dec. 12 at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.

The final match doubles as the fourth Bledisloe Cup Test between the Wallabies and All Blacks, with the trans-Tasman rivals playing two in New Zealand next month before the Rugby Championship gets underway.

Australia won hosting rights for the Rugby Championship over New Zealand due to more relaxed quarantine conditions, with all but one round of the fixture to be played in NSW.

The softening of COVID-19 guidelines in NSW means stadiums can operate at 50 percent capacity which will allow for potentially 40,000 spectators at ANZ Stadium.

Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium has also been permitted to fill to half capacity, meaning 25,000 fans, and these numbers could increase if coronavirus rates continue to fall.

ANZ Stadium and Bankwest Stadium will each host two rounds while one will be played at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on Saturday Nov. 28, with the Wallabies against Argentina and South Africa taking on New Zealand.

The Rugby Championship will be the Springboks’ first Tests since winning the World Cup in Japan last year.

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said it had taken a lot of work to get the tournament locked in after its COVID-19-forced postponement.

“While the rescheduling and reconfiguration of the Super Rugby season has not been ideal all the member unions have been committed in getting rugby back on the field and the culmination of this will be the TRC in Australia,” Marinos said in a statement.

“The six double-header Saturdays are a first for the tournament and will produce an exciting feast of rugby for spectators at the venues who will actually be getting two world class international tests for the price of one entry ticket.”

Inbound teams Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa will be required to observe all health regulations around their squads as imposed by the NSW and Queensland governments.

All sides will operate within a “bubble” during the tournament.

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE FOR 2020 (TIMES TBA)

Round 1: Saturday 7 November 2020, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Argentina vs. South Africa, Australia vs. New Zealand

Round 2: Saturday 14 November, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney

New Zealand vs. Argentina, South Africa vs. Australia

Round 3: Saturday 21 November, ANZ Stadium, Sydney

New Zealand vs. South Africa, Australia vs. Argentina

Round 4: Saturday 28 November, McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Argentina vs. Australia, South Africa vs. New Zealand

Round 5: Saturday 5 December, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney

Argentina vs. New Zealand, Australia vs. South Africa

Round 6: Saturday 12 December, ANZ Stadium, Sydney

South Africa vs. Argentina, Australia vs. New Zealand

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