The Rugby Championship has hit yet another snag, after New Zealand Rugby hit out at the schedule released on Thursday morning.
The draw for the six-week tournament was unveiled by tournament hosts Rugby Australia and SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos in Sydney, only for NZ Rugby to soon state the Dec. 12 date for the closing Tests did not satisfy their wishes and that a Dec. 5 date had in fact been slated.
With players having to quarantine for two weeks on their return to New Zealand, the Dec. 12 date means the All Blacks won’t be able to spend Christmas Day with their families or friends.
“We were working on the understanding and all our planning and scheduling was on the basis that the All Blacks’ last match would be on December 5 to give our players and management time to get home, undertake the 14 days’ quarantine back in New Zealand, and then be with their families for Christmas, as will be the case for the other three teams in the Tournament,” an NZ Rugby statement read.
“We understand the commercial considerations in the scheduling. However, the wellbeing of our people is an incredibly important factor in this also.
“We are committed to playing in the Rugby Championship and we know the scheduling of matches has been a complex and dynamic issue to work through, especially with quarantine protocols, but we haven’t agreed to this schedule and are disappointed at the announcement.
“We will now work through the issues with Rugby Australia and SANZAAR and believe that there are other solutions within the Rugby Championship window,” Robinson said.
Reports suggests the Wallabies had been faced with a similar quarantine scenario when the tournament hub had been slated for New Zealand, with a request for the Championship’s final Tests to be expedited also rebuffed.
Other reports suggested the Springboks and Pumas — who are both yet to resume playing in any form in South Africa and Argentina — weren’t in favour of condensing the schedule given their players have been sidelined since the cancellation of Super Rugby back in mid-March, and would therefore need as much recovery time between games as possible.
Australia and New Zealand were both able to complete domestic Super Rugby competitions in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
After winning the right to host the tournament earlier this month, Rugby Australia boss Rob Clarke said it would work with both SANZAAR and NZ Rugby to accommodate the request of condensing the schedule, or even the possibility of midweek matches.
But it appears negotiations have fallen flat since then, leaving the tournament shrouded in uncertainty despite each Union recognising the financial necessities that it proceeds as planned.
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