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All Blacks pull out of Perth Bledisloe, SANZAAR considers European options for TRC

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20th August, 2021
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The Rugby Championship has been thrown into chaos after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced it won’t send the All Blacks to Perth for the August 28 clash with the Wallabies.

The All Blacks were initially scheduled to fly to Perth on Sunday in preparation for the third Bledisloe Cup clash at Optus Stadium, which also doubled as a Rugby Championship fixture.

But with NZ in lockdown and the complexities of getting a team to Perth with enough time to quarantine before the match, NZR announced the All Blacks won’t be sent to Perth.

The news came among speculation that TRC 2021 would be completed in Europe, including report of a ponteital Bledisloe 3 at Wembley Stadium in October.

NZR also announced that the All Blacks’ two home Tests against South Africa won’t be played in NZ.

“Without complete certainty on the team’s next movements around the Rugby Championship we felt it was prudent for the team to stay put in New Zealand until SANZAAR have announced the full tournament schedule,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.

“Once the team leaves our shores, they currently can’t return until November 23 post their Northern Tour, so given the uncertainty, it makes sense to pause and get more clarity on these fixtures.

“We remain 100 per cent committed to playing in the entire Rugby Championship in 2021 and are working closely with SANZAAR to look at a range of options to reschedule these important matches.”

It has been reported that SANZAAR are considering moving the rest of the series to Europe, according to multiple reports on Friday.

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RugbyPass website, reported that four double-headers are tentatively being planned for Paris, London, Dublin and Cardiff, includng the milestone 100th Test between NZ and South Africa.

NZ website stuff.co.nz reported that the Europe option for the Rugby Championship is seriously being considered, “with plans to hold the blockbuster All Blacks-Springboks game at Twickenham already being drawn up”.

“UK authorities are likely to allow a full crowd at Twickenham, and with well in excess of 1 million expat Kiwis, Australians and South Africans living in London there would be high hopes of a sellout,” stuff.co.nz reported.

“The Test could also be hosted in the evening – potentially after the Australia-Argentina game at the same venue – to allow Kiwi TV audiences to watch in the morning.

“The All Blacks could then send a restricted, 26-man-squad to the US for the test against the Eagles on October and return to Europe for their November test program against Wales, Italy, Ireland and France.”

The New Zealand Herald said if The Rugby Championship is held in Europe the All Blacks and Wallabies could potentially play their third Bledisloe at Wembley on October 9.

“The All Blacks would then likely send a reduced squad to Washington DC, with the remainder staying in the UK to prepare for their opening end-of-year tour game against Wales in Cardiff on October 30,” it reported.

It said Queensland remained an option to host the tournament, “with Rugby Australia said to be positive it will secure late approval from the State government despite the border being closed to New Zealand on Thursday.

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“Europe has emerged as an enticing prospect as it allows matches to be played with full crowds. The Herald understands the first Rugby Championship test would be held in Paris as this is the best quarantine route that would allow all four teams to progress onto the UK, where matches are being eyed for Twickenham, Cardiff and possibly Dublin.”

Here is the full statement from NZR

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced the All Blacks’ two home Fortinet Rugby Championship Tests against South Africa and the Black Ferns two O’Reilly Cup Tests against the Wallaroos will not be played in New Zealand.

The decision follows advice from Government that the Springboks and Wallaroos would not be able to enter New Zealand to play the matches due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The All Blacks were scheduled to play South Africa at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday 25 September, and at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday 2 October. The Black Ferns were scheduled to play the Wallaroos at Rugby Park, Christchurch, on Sunday 26 September and at Eden Park as part of a double header with the All Blacks.

NZR has also confirmed that, given the current uncertainty over The Rugby Championship schedule, it has made the decision not to send the All Blacks to Perth this weekend for the third Bledisloe Cup Test which was scheduled to be played at Optus Stadium on Saturday 28 August.

Ticket holders for the matches in Auckland and Dunedin will receive a full refund and will be contacted by the respective ticket providers in due course – Ticketek for Forysth Barr Stadium, and Ticketmaster for Eden Park.

New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said every effort had been made to keep the two Tests in New Zealand.

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“We share the disappointment of our fans, players and other stakeholders, particularly those in Dunedin where the sold-out 100th Test between the All Blacks and South Africa was shaping up as a very special occasion.

“However, after discussions with Government, it is clear that the COVID-19 travel restrictions meant there was no way of bringing the South African and Wallaroos squads into New Zealand and we understand the importance of putting the health and safety of New Zealanders first.

Speaking on the decision to not have the All Blacks travel to Perth this weekend, Robinson said:

“Without complete certainty on the team’s next movements around The Rugby Championship we felt it was prudent for the team to stay put in New Zealand until SANZAAR have announced the full tournament schedule.

“Once the team leaves our shores, they currently can’t return until November 23 post their Northern Tour, so given the uncertainty, it makes sense to pause and get more clarity on these fixtures.

“We remain 100 percent committed to playing in the entire Fortinet Rugby Championship in 2021 and are working closely with SANZAAR to look at a range of options to reschedule these important matches.”

SANZAAR would make further announcements around the Rugby Championship schedule in due course.

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