The first two Bledisloe Cup games of 2020 will be played on consecutive Sunday afternoons after New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia reached an agreement on the fixture details for the two Tests.
Wellington will host Game 1 at Sky Stadium on October 11 before the series moves to Auckland’s Eden Park on the 18th. Both matches will kick off at 1:30pm (AEDT).
Confirmation of the Bledisloe Cup fixtures – at least for the first half of the four-game series – is a welcome development after days of Trans-Tasman bickering over the dates for the two matches, and even suggestions the Wallabies would play just one Test in New Zealand before the Rugby Championship begins in Australia.
NZR initially proposed holding Game 1 on October 10, a scenario which Wallabies coach Dave Rennie blasted on the grounds of having insufficient time to prepare his side given the quarantine protocols they will have to observe upon arrival.
With approval from the New Zealand Government, Rennie will now be able to train his side as a full squad four days after landing in New Zealand. Rugby Australia struck a gratified tone in their announcement of the schedule as a result.
“Thank you to New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Government for the flexibility and support over the last week to find a mutually agreeable solution,” interim CEO Rob Clarke said.
“Dave (Rennie) and the team are incredibly excited about the prospect of playing in New Zealand and will get straight to work following the Super Rugby AU final on Saturday night in Canberra.
“We will now meet with our SANZAAR joint venture partners on Thursday to work on confirming the schedule for the Rugby Championship here in Australia to start in November.”
Clarke’s New Zealand counterpart, Mark Robinson, was also full of praise for all parties.
“We acknowledge that this has been a complex and challenging puzzle to solve and we’re grateful that both rugby organisations, together with our Government, have come together to get these matches across the line,” he said.
“We’re also pleased that the All Blacks team and management now have certainty and can plan accordingly, and we wish them all the very best for the Bledisloe Cup campaign.”
The Wallabies’ exact travel plans are yet to be confirmed, however it is expected the 44-man squad will leave for New Zealand within a few days of Saturday’s final.
Meanwhile, NZR will reschedule the Mitre 10 Cup draw for both weekends, although the exact details of the fixture change haven’t been announced as yet.