New Zealand bows to pressure from Wallabies
NEWS: The New Zealand government will relax its quarantine rules to ensure the Wallabies can prepare properly for the Bledisloe Cup Tests across the Tasman next month.
The dates for the two Bledisloe Cup Tests in New Zealand have been confirmed, with the All Blacks to play the Wallabies at Wellington Regional Stadium on Sunday, October 11 and a week later at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday, October 18.
Both matches will have afternoon kick-off times (15.30 local time).
New Zealand were given two trans-Tasman Tests after losing the hosting rights for the Rugby Championship to Australia due to restrictive quarantine protocols.
But Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said the current strict quarantine conditions in NZ were unacceptable for his team to prepare properly before the opening Test on October 10.
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had spoken with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and told him her country’s strict biosecurity regulations could be eased to ensure a level playing field.
Under the new NZ Government guidelines, the Australian squad will be able to train fully as a squad four days after arriving in the country, dependent on all squad members returning a negative Covid-19 test on day three.
Ardern told Newstalk ZB she had spoken to Morrison on Monday.
“I just wanted to make sure that he was aware … I was made aware last night that there were a few little rumblings around the arrangements that we had in place,” Ardern said.
“Quarantine shouldn’t be an issue. We just want to make sure that, you know, we go there and they go here and it is a fair arrangement.”
NZ Minister of Sport Grant Robertson said the Wallabies were set to be based in Christchurch for their pre-Bledisloe Cup quarantine.
“Most likely location will be in Christchurch,” Robertson told TVNZ.
“It will be in a dedicated isolation facility, and they will be able to bus to and from their training grounds.”
Meanwhile, NZR CEO Mark Robinson said: “We’re delighted to lock in the dates and venues for the two home matches against Australia and look forward to seeing the Bledisloe Cup go on the line next month.”
He added: “We acknowledge that this has been a complex and challenging puzzle to solve and we’re grateful that both rugby organisations, together with our Government, have come together to get these matches across the line.
“We’re also pleased that the All Blacks team and management now have certainty and can plan accordingly, and we wish them all the very best for the Bledisloe Cup campaign,” he added.