Fresh doubt over third Bledisloe Cup clash
NEWS: Rugby Australia remains hopeful the third Bledisloe Cup Test will proceed in Perth later this month, despite a change in border arrangements with New Zealand.
However, plans for the four-team Rugby Championship – including world champions South Africa and Argentina – played solely in Perth look to have been knocked on the head.
The Bledisloe match is scheduled for Perth on August 28.
However, doubts surfaced with the All Blacks caught up in New Zealand’s snap lockdown on Tuesday.
Following the outbreak, the West Australian government changed the border arrangements so all arrivals from New Zealand must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
The Wallabies flew straight to Perth on Sunday following their second Cup defeat in Auckland, before the change in quarantine measures.
WA Premier Mark McGowan gave no guarantees the match would go ahead but said the All Blacks could be placed in a quarantine bubble similar to protocols used for interstate AFL teams.
That means that while isolated in hotels, players are be allowed out to train and to play.
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“We may have to work out some arrangement. There may be a bubble or they may have to just comply with the rules that exist for everyone else,” McGowan said on Wednesday.
“It’s a moving situation and we’re trying to work out exactly what can be done about that.
“That would be very disappointing for rugby fans if we’re forced to cancel the game but that’s the nature of the world we’re in.”
Scheduled to depart Auckland for Perth on Sunday, the All Blacks are on personal leave with New Zealand Rugby saying they are in ongoing discussions with SANZAAR and RA.
“We will be guided by government travel guidelines and any potential border restrictions in Australia while working closely with SANZAAR and Rugby Australia in coming days to understand what the impact is on our plans,” said NZR chief executive Mark Robinson.
RA may look at pushing back the All Blacks’ arrival date until the end of the seven-day lockdown in Auckland in the hope the clean travel bubble between the cities is re-established.
The Rugby Championship matches involving the Wallabies are slated for September at the SCG, Suncorp Stadium, Newcastle and a clash with Argentina in Canberra on October 2.
Given the COVID-19 outbreaks in NSW and ACT, SANZAAR was considering hosting all four teams and matches in Perth, with double-headers over four consecutive weekends.
McGowan said such a scenario was now “unlikely”.
“It’s not our number one priority,” the Premier said.
Rugby Australia will now look at shifting the Rugby Championship to Queensland, with games split between Brisbane, the Gold Coast and possibly Townsville.