New Zealand Rugby is disputing a leaked document which appears to show it had advance knowledge of the Rugby Championship schedule that has become the latest flashpoint in a fraught relationship with its SANZAAR partners.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has said the relationship with New Zealand is at its “lowest ebb” after a recent series of disagreements.
The relationship suffered further damage when southern hemisphere governing body SANZAAR released a schedule for the Rugby Championship in Australia which sees the All Blacks playing their last match against the Wallabies on December 12.
That means the All Blacks, who have to spend 14 days in managed isolation on their return home, will still be in quarantine on Christmas Day.
NZ Rugby has repeatedly said it believed it had an agreement with Australia and SANZAAR that the All Blacks would play six Tests over five weeks, with their last match on December 5.
But the minutes of a SANZAAR chief executives meeting, obtained by news organisations in Australia and New Zealand, appear to show the Kiwisagreed to the six-week schedule and a December 12 final match.
New Zealand also appeared to agree to the release of the schedule on September 24, after which it claimed to have been “blindsided” by the release and December 12 date.
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson insisted in media interviews that his organisation had not signed off on the schedule.
“We didn’t agree to the schedule and don’t agree to the schedule. Or the announcement,” Robinson said.
“Ordinarily, under SANZAAR joint venture that means things aren’t decided or announced until there is unanimous support for anything such as this.
“All I would say is that in any forum we have been in, there has been no agreement to play in the tournament on December 12 at any time and at any meeting.
“We have been very clear around that and any correspondence on our end. “That’s something we have been very consistent with.”