All Blacks lifeline? Jacinda Ardern weighs in on Rugby Championship

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 28 Sep 2020, 2:04PM
The All Blacks perform the haka ahead of their Bledisloe Cup clash against the Wallabies last year. (Photo / Photosport)
The All Blacks perform the haka ahead of their Bledisloe Cup clash against the Wallabies last year. (Photo / Photosport)

All Blacks lifeline? Jacinda Ardern weighs in on Rugby Championship

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 28 Sep 2020, 2:04PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said quarantine rules won't be changed to allow All Blacks players and staff to spend Christmas with their families after the Rugby Championship in Australia.

However, Ardern offered some hope that a "hot spot" approach to transtasman travel could be possible before Christmas, which would resolve New Zealand Rugby's issue with the Rugby Championship schedule.

Ardern told TVNZ's Breakfast that "it is possible" we could see a transtasman bubble open with a few Australian states.

The Rugby Championship will be played in New South Wales and Queensland in November and December, away from the coronavirus outbreak in Victoria that has seen more than 20,000 cases.

After the announcement of the competition schedule, NZR raised concerns with Sanzaar over the final match to be played on December 12 between the All Blacks and the Wallabies, claiming it had not agreed to the date which would require players to undergo 14-day managed isolation during December 25th.

While the Government is still open to state-by-state transtasman travel, Ardern ruled out changing quarantine rules for the All Blacks and anyone else.

"Ultimately, our view was the easiest way to avoid the situation that the All Blacks possibly face was to stick to the 6th December dates for games, which was agreed," she told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking.

"Moving beyond that does of course mean they will be in quarantine over that period."

Ardern said "the All Blacks would expect us to treat them the same way that we treat others".

"There are others who won't want to be stuck in quarantine over Christmas, but that's just the reality of our process.

"And, so, again, I don't think [the All Blacks] would feel that comfortable with us creating a different regime for them, because it exists for the same reason."

NZR claims it had agreed earlier that the final matches would be played on December 6, which was ignored by Sanzaar.

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie backed a change to the Rugby Championship schedule to allow the Kiwi players to be home for Christmas, saying it would be "hypocritical" of Rugby Australia not to support the All Blacks' request after NZR backed a similar situation for the Wallabies when the tournament was initially planned to be staged in New Zealand.

"It would be hypocritical of us to not support New Zealand now when we thought it was a good idea. I know Australia did support them but the decision but be unanimous amongst the group," Rennie said.

"That's what we want. It's been a tough year for everyone. The All Blacks are going to be away from home for a long time, but so is everyone else."

"There is talk of a bubble opening up between New South Wales and New Zealand," Rennie added, but Ardern indicated that there are plenty of issues to be resolved before that could be implemented.

"We would have to make sure we were excluding those states where there were still issues, obviously Victoria," Ardern told Newstalk ZB. "Then you have to make sure they've got a firm border between Victoria and those states from which you are opening up travel.

"Then you've got to make sure you've got routes that do not have transit passengers on them. Currently, everyone that's coming in and out of Australia and New Zealand have travellers coming in and out of Covid areas."

Ardern added that Australia had only recently opened up to a "hot spot arrangement" after previously insisting on a "whole of Australia" approach to travel bubbles.

 

Rugby Championship 2020 fixtures

Round One - Saturday 7 November 2020

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Argentina v South Africa
Australia v New Zealand

Round Two - Saturday 14 November

Bankwest Stadium, Sydney

New Zealand v Argentina
South Africa v Australia

Round Three - Saturday 21 November

ANZ Stadium, Sydney

New Zealand v South Africa
Australia v Argentina

Round Four – Saturday 28 November

McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Argentina v Australia
South Africa v New Zealand

Round Five – Saturday 5 December

Bankwest Stadium, Sydney

Argentina v New Zealand
Australia v South Africa

Round Six – Saturday 12 December

ANZ Stadium, Sydney

South Africa v Argentina
Australia v New Zealand
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