Rugby Australia has responded to New Zealand Rugby’s unhappiness with the six-week Rugby Championship schedule released on Thursday.
Sanzaar revealed the draw for the competition on Thursday and it was almost immediately rejected by NZR, who said it didn’t agree to the fixtures as the final Test will mean All Blacks players will be in managed quarantine during Christmas, away from their families.
NZR’s response hinted at Rugby Australia being at fault for the scheduling, but according to various reports an initial Sanzaar vote on Australia’s request that the Rugby Championship be played within five weeks was dismissed 3-1. Before the tournament was then switched to Australia and another vote ensued, it was dismissed 2-2 on the account of it requiring majority approval.
South Africa Rugby and the Argentina Rugby Union voted against the five-week plan on both occasions, leaving Sanzaar with no other option but to release the Rugby Championship draw under its original six-week window.
While Sanzaar boss Andy Marinos met NZR’s comments with a stern response earlier in the day, Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke has gone for a softer approach in a statement.
Clarke said there was never an agreement to hold the tournament’s final-round fixtures on 5 December, insisting it had twice voted in favour of reducing the tournament to a five-week time frame.
‘For absolute clarity – on two formal occasions – Rugby Australia was supportive of altering the draw so that the Rugby Championship could be played over five weeks,’ Clarke said via a media release later on Thursday.
‘On both occasions, that proposal was rejected which means there was never an agreement to finish the tournament on Saturday, 5 December 2020.
‘That being said, no one wants players and team management to be away from their families and in quarantine over Christmas. Rugby Australia will do everything in its power to help assist New Zealand Rugby and the team in finding a reasonable resolution, and in urging them to exhaust every possible alternative. There are still more than two months to go before 12 December, so we have plenty of time to find a solution.
‘We will continue to work with New Zealand Rugby and support them however we can, just like we are doing with the Springboks and Argentina in assisting with their travel plans, as well as making their stay in Australia as safe and as comfortable as possible during the tournament.
‘There have been a number of sacrifices made by each of the Sanzaar joint venture partners to get this far and I want to thank all of them for their flexibility and adaptability.
‘There is obviously a lot to achieve in the coming months but I’m confident that under the leadership of each of the joint venture partners, that the 2020 Rugby Championship in Australia will be a great success.’
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