Aussies sitting on the fence in SANZAAR spat
The Wallabies are happy to stay away from the growing stoush between two SANZAAR rivals, with assistant coach Scott Wisemantel saying they’re leaving it to the administrators to “box on”.
The Australians are in Christchurch, trying to focus on the opening Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington on October 11, but a battle off the field is raging around them.
The South African Rugby Union announced that it would pull its four teams out of Super Rugby in favour of playing in Europe’s Pro14 competition and blamed New Zealand for the sudden break-up of the Southern Hemisphere competition.
SARU said it was forced by New Zealand’s “unilateral” decision to organise its own domestic competition, or possibly a Trans-Tasman competition, leaving South Africa out in the cold.
They are still committed to playing in the upcoming Rugby Championship.
“Our members are excited about the prospect of closer alignment with Pro Rugby Championship and seeking a Northern Hemisphere future, but we would not have been taking this decision but for actions elsewhere,” SARU Chief Executive Jurie Roux said.
But NZ Rugby boss Mark Robinson said South African officials had long been looking at the Northern Hemisphere, which suits their time zone, with COVID-19 speeding up the move.
“SARU has signalled for some time now they were looking at aligning with the northern hemisphere season,” Robinson said on Wednesday.
The Super Rugby news came on top of a demand by All Blacks coach Ian Foster that governing body SANZAAR take immediate action to reschedule the Rugby Championship to ensure his team was out of two weeks quarantine by Christmas.
Their last match of the competitions, against Australia, is currently set down for December 12 in Sydney.
Hosts Australia, originally blamed for the scheduling, said they were happy to accommodate a condensed format.
However, South Africa and Argentina were not.
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Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan admitted this week relations with NZ Rugby were at its “lowest ebb”.
Wallabies assistant Wisemantel said they were happy to keep out of the off-field machinations and try to focus on their preparation for the All Blacks.
“I don’t really care, I’m not an administrator, I’m a coach,” Wisemantel said, when asked about the souring relations.
“To be honest Fozzie [Foster] is a good bloke, he’s a mate of mine, so let the administrators have a little tiff, let them box on, it’s their time in the sun and we’ll just play footy.”
Wisemantel said he hoped there could be some arrangement that meant the All Blacks weren’t still in quarantine over Christmas.
“But that’s another one for the administrators so let them sort it out,” he said.