The All Blacks' two home tests against South Africa have been cancelled and the side will not depart for Perth this weekend to play the final Bledisloe Cup test.
As first reported by the Herald on Friday, New Zealand Rugby has decided to scrap the Springboks tests scheduled for September 25 in Dunedin and October 2 at Eden Park. The first of those would have been the 100th test between the All Blacks and the Boks.
The Black Ferns' two clashes with Australia also won't take place in New Zealand following advice from the Government that the Springboks and Wallaroos would not be able to enter New Zealand to play the matches due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
In a statement, NZR also confirmed that the All Blacks would not depart for Perth this weekend for the third Bledisloe Cup clash which was scheduled to be played at Optus Stadium on Saturday 28 August.
"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," said NZR chief executive Mark Robinson.
"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."
The Herald understands the All Blacks considered travelling to Perth this Saturday, but with Rugby Australia unable to provide assurances Queensland will host the Rugby Championship, the decision has since been made to delay the team leaving.
While the All Blacks are committed to playing the third Bledisloe, it will now need to be pushed back to September 4 in Perth or could potentially be staged at the end of the Rugby Championship on October 9 – possibly at Wembley.
Robinson said NZR now awaits Sanzaar's confirmed schedule for the Rugby Championship.
"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 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.”
The All Blacks celebrate their Bledisloe Cup victory. Photo / Photosport
These include the possibility of staging the tournament in South Africa or Europe - with an announcement from Sanzaar expected within 48 hours.
Robinson said ticket holders for the matches against the Boks in Auckland and Dunedin will receive a full refund and will be contacted by the respective ticket providers in due course.