What the trans-Tasman travel bubble means for New Zealand sport

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 6 Apr 2021, 9:40PM
The Warriors look set to remain in Australia. Photo / Photosport
The Warriors look set to remain in Australia. Photo / Photosport

What the trans-Tasman travel bubble means for New Zealand sport

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 6 Apr 2021, 9:40PM

The trans-Tasman bubble has finally arrived and will come into effect from April 19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

The news is a huge boost for New Zealand sport, with several teams competing in trans-Tasman competitions and having to base themselves in Australia.

Here's all you need to know about what the trans-Tasman bubble means for New Zealand sport.

League

Warriors CEO Cameron George said today's trans-Tasman bubble announcement was a positive step towards the club returning home later in the NRL season.

George confirmed a month ago the Warriors had decided to extend their stay in Australia until June 21 while continuing to monitor developments.

"Today's announcement of a travel bubble is cause for excitement but it doesn't immediately affect our plans," he said.

"Our position is that we will stay in Australia until after playing Newcastle on June 19. We had discussions with the NRL and our players and staff about our plan to ensure we have some stability for the first 15 rounds of the season.

"Our desire hasn't changed. We want to be back home as soon as it's feasible so we can have our team playing in front of our families, members, fans and our supportive sponsors.

"When it's safe to do so, we look forward to sharing the biggest homecoming party with everyone at Mount Smart Stadium but we need to be absolutely sure we will be able to travel to and from Australia with confidence to ensure our place in the competition isn't jeopardised.

"As we have done throughout we will keep monitoring the situation and will seek the best possible advice."

As it stands, the Warriors' first home game at Mount Smart Stadium will be their 16th-round match against St George Illawarra on Friday, July 2.

The Warriors plan to travel to Auckland on June 21 following the clash against the Knights.

There is then a break in the NRL schedule for State of Origin's standalone second match at Suncorp Stadium on June 27, giving the Warriors time to relocate to Auckland.

Rugby

While the travel bubble doesn't have any effect on the schedule and format of Super Rugby Aotearoa, the six-week crossover tournament between New Zealand and Australian clubs is set to go ahead.

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman will feature an additional 26 games over six straight weeks, kicking off on May 14, with a final scheduled for June.

All teams will play two home games and two away games, as well as a potential 'Super Round', where all matches played in round three will be played at one location over one weekend.

The trans-Tasman bubble will also likely make All Blacks tests with the Wallabies significantly easier, providing both a financial boost for rugby governing bodies as well as making fan travel possible.

In a statement, NZ Rugby said today's announcement "gives us even greater confidence to push forward" with plans for the trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition as it "provides certainty to our teams, fans and stakeholders".

Tomer Hemed of the Phoenix in possession. Photo / Photosport Tomer Hemed of the Phoenix in possession. Photo / Photosport

Football

The Wellington Phoenix, who haven't played an A-League match in New Zealand for over a year, will continue to base themselves out of Wollongong in the New South Wales.

However, the Phoenix are open to holding two A-League games in New Zealand following the announcement.

"Although the club will continue to base itself out of Wollongong in New South Wales until the end of the season, this decision now opens up the possibility to play up to two matches in New Zealand during the 2020/21 A-League season," the club said in a statement.

"The club has previously stated that returning home is a goal. It's important for the fans, our corporate partners and of course players and staff members - some of whom will have been separated from their families for over six months.

"In anticipation of such an announcement being made, the club has been working on a plan to have the team and support staff return. This includes travel logistics, liaising with ticket providers and investigating accommodation arrangements for all the teams involved.

"With this announcement today, these plans can now be accelerated. We hope to be able to make a further announcement shortly regarding the team's ability to return to New Zealand.

"The club wishes to stress that no definitive decision on a return has been made as yet, particularly as there are a range of factors involved in this decision – not just for the club but the A-League in a wider sense, due to the risk involved in travelling to another country and the possibility of further Covid outbreaks in either country."

Basketball

The Breakers have been based in Tasmania this year and will stay in Australia for now.

However, Breakers owner Matt Walsh said the team will be meeting with ANBL officials and hopes to get players back as soon as possible.

Veteran swingman Tom Abercrombie shared his reaction on Youtube.

"It's incredibly exciting for us to have something set in stone," said Abercrombe.

"Having some certainty around that date has certainly given us a bit more pep in our step.

"We've been over here since early December, I believe. It's been so long I've forgotten exactly when we got to Australia.

"We've been here a long time, we've jumped from state to state, it sometimes feels like we've been everywhere but home, so the prospect of jumping back across the ditch and seeing family and friends for us is an extremely exciting thought. It looks like things are on the up, and we're excited to get home."