The Rugby Championship fixture has been thrown into chaos after New Zealand Rugby decided against sending 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 on Friday that the All Blacks wouldn’t head to Perth.
NZR also announced the All Blacks’ two home Tests against South Africa won’t be played in NZ, given the Springboks won’t be granted entry due to travel restrictions.
The All Blacks were due to play South Africa in Dunedin on September 25 and in Auckland on October 2.
The Black Ferns’ two Tests against the Wallaroos in NZ have also been canned.
The whole of NZ is in lockdown following a COVID-19 outbreak. On Friday afternoon, it was extended until at least next Tuesday.
“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.”
The Wallabies landed in Perth last Sunday and it’s unclear what their next move is now that the Bledisloe Cup blockbuster in WA won’t go ahead.
Queensland looms as an option to play the game – as well as the other Rugby Championship fixtures – but much will depend on what quarantine requirements will be imposed.
If the Queensland government doesn’t allow teams to train during their 14-day quarantine period, there’s talk the four-nation Rugby Championship, which also involves Argentina, could be moved to Europe.
That will allow teams like Australia and NZ to complete the Rugby Championship before embarking on their northern hemisphere tours.
South Africa is another option to host the Rugby Championship, but that seems more unlikely given that games would probably be played in empty stadiums.