So what is the problem with SANZAAR - apart from everything that is?
This latest dispute/disagreement isn’t the collective’s first but well might be its last as the four countries involved fight to find a perfect common ground around the where and when of this year’s Rugby Championship.
The issue isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong but more importantly how it’s all going to end. And that I believe is with the exact same framework and schedule as outlined by SANZAAR yesterday.
Yes, we might not like it and wish our last test vs Australia be moved back a week. But no, because that would then mean the whole fixture list needing a minor or major adjustment (depending on your point of view), and it is not going to happen.
The reality is the moment we lost the hosting rights we also lost the ability to dictate terms. And remember we lost the event because our Covid quarantine rules meant the proposed schedule was simply prohibitive to all four nations involved.
And now, by coincidence or accident or fate or happenstance, we’re right back to where we started, objecting to what’s been proposed because of the inconvenience again of our own Covid rules. The objection being that with a compulsory fortnight’s quarantine following the final test vs Australia, our players will miss out on Christmas Day/Boxing Day with their loved ones.
Which of course is not ideal. But isn’t that also just part of this new normal we are all having to live with because of this virus, i.e, making constant compromises? It’s an emotive issue and one guaranteed to polarise popular opinion as fans wrestle with the wish to see top class international rugby again balanced against the human side of asking our players to accept personal sacrifices few are forced to make.
The Wallabies are here in New Zealand enjoying their two week quarantine bubble before emerging to play the two Bledisloe tests on Oct 10th and 17th. We then fly immediately over there to immerse into our own fortnight’s bubble before a week’s build-up for the first RC match on Nov 7th.
Everything about the next 14 weeks will be unusual for all involved. The lockdown, enforced isolation, time away from families and loved ones, the constant intrusive testing, the boredom of repetition, the claustrophobic circumstances of being stuck with the same people in the same place for months on end.
But what’s the alternative apart from no international rugby at all? And if that was the case how would the players expect to be paid?
So I don’t believe the proposed schedule will now be altered to accommodate our wishes. I also believe our best players will commit to the draw and we’ll play every test at full strength. And yes, the returning isolation period does suck but it’s also simply what they have to do. Just like the Warriors have done - for two months longer.