All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has urged World Rugby to suspend the Test rankings for the remainder of the year due to Covid-19 uncertainty.
While the mid-Test window had to be cancelled, the Rugby Championship will now be played at the end of the year in Australia while northern-hemisphere teams will compete in an eight-team Nations Cup, also involving Fiji and Georgia.
The 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign was also called off, forcing New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia to organise domestic Super Rugby-like competitions. South Africa is only expected to resume competive action on 26 September when the Vodacom Bulls take on the Sharks, and the Lions battle the Stormers on ‘Vodacom Super Fan Saturday’.
Former Springbok skipper Wynand Claassen earlier said the Springboks should not be playing in the Rugby Championship due to under-preparation, while they could also lose their No 1 ranking achieved by last year’s World Cup win.
But Foster believes the Rugby Championship tournament is vital for the boards to generate much-needed revenue to break free of the financial strain put on governing bodies by Covid-19.
‘From a New Zealand Rugby side, from the revenue side, it’s vital,’ said Foster. ‘It’s vital for both sides of the Tasman, it’s vital for South Africa and Argentina. It’s why the four countries have voted to play the Rugby Championship.
‘And I think from a national perspective it’s equally as vital. All Blacks Tests are something to be looked forward to. It’s up to the public to decide how much they enjoy it, but to us it’s a massive opportunity to represent our country in what’s been a really difficult year.
‘I even hear talk from a South African ex-captain that the Springboks shouldn’t come because they might lose their world ranking with their preparation. Well, let’s can the world rankings for this year. Who really cares?
‘What’s more important right now is we get the game on the park, and we put some international rugby on the park and let people enjoy it. Of course, we want to win and be No 1, but I’d hate to let little things like that stand in the road of us playing international rugby.’