New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson has defended the decision by the All Blacks to cancel their matches against South Africa and not travel to Perth to face the Wallabies.
After New Zealand unilaterally announced via a media release that they would not be contesting the Bledisloe Cup in Brisbane, and that they would not play South Africa in New Zealand, there was outcry both from SANZAAR and Rugby Australia.
Andy Marinos, Rugby Australia chief, was scathing in his assessment.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to be informed of this decision via the media, despite having a conversation with the CEO moments before and there no mention that this was the intention.”
This comes after comments by Wallabies coach Dave Rennie in which he sad he was ‘livid’ at the decision and how poorly it had been communicated.
Robinson has, however, endeavoured to pour water on the flames by releasing a statement saying he sympathises with SANZAAR, but defends New Zealand’s decision.
“We can understand the frustration and disappointment of Rugby Australia about the fact that we were unable to travel. We have a huge amount of sympathy for the impact it has on them. As I said at the outset, we are absolutely committed to playing that game at some stage.
“Getting into a whole lot of speculation around who said what and when, doesn’t really help and doesn’t move forward. What we’re trying to do is find a solution to a situation that balances our need to look after our people, with our commitment to make this tournament go ahead.”
Robinson was emphatic that New Zealand was still committed to playing in the Rugby Championship, on their terms.
“We are waiting for the tournament schedule to come out, and where it might be played. Our first obligation is to our people at this time. In this regard we want to make sure that before that anyone steps foot on a plane where the coming weeks might sit for them in being involved in international rugby.
“We’re hoping that can be resolved. There’s obviously the possibility of that being in Queensland, and there’s obviously been speculation around the possibilities about where it might be played if it’s not in Australia.
“Once we get clarity around that we’re certainly committed to playing in the tournament.”
The suggestions are that New Zealand is looking to push the UK and Ireland as a destination to host the remainder of the competition. This despite South Africa having offered to host.