Despite having lost out to Australia in hosting the upcoming 2020 Rugby Championship, New Zealand Rugby has advised that fans will still get the chance to see the All Blacks play at home this year with the Wallabies coming to New Zealand to play two Bledisloe Cup matches in October.
Two fixtures will take place before the All Blacks head to Australia for the Rugby Championship, which will include two further Bledisloe Cup clashes.
Despite New Zealand having been the expected host of the Rugby Championship, governing body SANZAAR advised yesterday that the four-nation tournament including New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina will be played in Australia
This followed SANZAAR announcing in July that the tournament would be held in New Zealand from early November to mid-December, pending suitable facilities for teams to quarantine and train.
Commenting on SANZAAR’s change of heart, NZ Rugby Chief Executive Mark Robinson stated “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.”
Explaining the decision, SANZAAR Chief Executive, Andy Marinos noted “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.”
Prior to the decision, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would be very disappointed if the tournament had been given to Australia, saying a huge amount of effort had gone into the bid, with plans to quarantine teams in Queenstown.
Prime Minister Ardern commented “we put in a huge amount of effort into that bid, the tournament and even the players, even creating a regime where they could be playing within three days of arrival.
“If the results don’t go our way it would be a result of SANZAAR politics.
“The arrangements we proposed included training while in quarantine. We worked very hard with health and the tournament organisation to make sure we looked after people’s health and didn’t jeopardise the tournament. It did mean that they’d be able to train within three days.”
News that New Zealand has missed out on hosting the Rugby Championship 2020 was described by Queenstown Lakes District Mayor, Jim Boult as a “big disappointment”.
Speaking yesterday, Mayor Boult advised “I’m gutted that the tournament won’t be hosted by New Zealand and, more particularly, our district.
“A massive amount of work was applied by us, New Zealand Rugby and the Southern District Health Board to come up with a well thought-out plan that involved accommodating the teams, both in isolation and afterwards.
“We were very excited about the opportunity to host a high profile activity in town, and even more so about the possibility of hosting a game. I’m disappointed we’ve missed out.”
Images: The Bledisloe Cup (top) and the Queenstown Events Centre, where teams would have spent part of their quarantine if New Zealand had hosted the Rugby Championship (below).
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