All Blacks coach Ian Foster said on Tuesday Rugby Championship organisers needed to move quickly to change the tournament’s schedule and allow his team to spend Christmas with family rather than in quarantine in New Zealand.
The All Blacks are scheduled to play Australia in Sydney on Dec. 12 and would have to spend two weeks in isolation when they return home as part of COVID-19 protocols.
The schedule has angered New Zealand Rugby and Foster said SANZAAR, which organises the Rugby Championship, had “reneged” on a deal that would have allowed the All Blacks to finish the tournament a week earlier.
“It needs to be sorted — today would be great, but we’ll accept tomorrow,” he told New Zealand media.
“There was a deal based on the fifth (of December), we feel that SANZAAR has reneged on that, so we’ve put some solutions (forward), so we’ll wait and see.
“There’s been set expectations and they haven’t been delivered on, so that’s up to the game and SANZAAR to sort out.”
Foster stopped short of suggesting the All Blacks could boycott the final match if SANZAAR would not change the schedule.
“I don’t want to talk about that now,” he said.
“That’s a headline that I don’t want to put out there. But we’re bitterly disappointed that what was proposed got changed.”
The All Blacks will play their first test match of the year against Australia in Wellington on Oct. 11, with a second Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park a week later before the Rugby Championship starts in Australia in November.
New Zealand media have raised concerns a number of All Blacks players with young families, including new father Beauden Barrett, might opt out of the last Rugby Championship match.
Veteran hooker Dane Coles said he would not be making any Christmas plans until there was clarity.
“Once we get a solid plan then we can have those conversations with our loved ones and have those tough conversations about what will happen,” he said.