Petulant All Blacks score first 'win' over Wallabies.
BREAKING NEWS: New Zealand struck a big blow in their petulant board-room standoff with Australia.
It was confirmed on Thursday that the draw for the 2020 Rugby Championship has been revised.
SANZAAR and tournament hosts, Rugby Australia, announced a revised draw for the 2020 Rugby Championship.
The 12-match tournament will now be played across seven weeks – with Australia’s clash against New Zealand moved from Saturday, December 12 to Saturday, October 31 at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
South Africa’s Test against Argentina on Saturday, December 12 has been moved to Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium to close out the tournament.
The remainder of the draw is otherwise unchanged with five straight weeks of doubleheaders beginning in Brisbane on Saturday, November 7.
Kick-off times have also been confirmed.
The change comes as a result of New Zealand’s unwillingness to play on December 12, because their players would then have been in quarantine over the Christmas period.
It resulted in a curmudgeonly public spat between the two countries – New Zealand and Australia – which further soured the already strained Trans-Tasman relationships.
New Zealand, on Thursday, held out an olive branch to the Aussies.
“We’d like to thank our colleagues at SANZAAR and Rugby Australia for the time and effort that has gone into finalising a schedule that is workable for all,” NZ Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said.
“It is great news that we now have certainty on the draw and we’re really excited about the fantastic rugby to come.”
SANZAAR said in a statement it still believes it will be a “memorable” tournament – even with doubt remaining over South Africa’s participation.
If the Springboks decide to play – a call is set to be made this coming weekend – it will be the first time they will be in action since they became World Champions at the World Cup in Japan last year.
South Africa is scheduled to face Argentina on matchday two.
Saturday, November 7 will also mark the first-time that Tier One nations will have ever faced-off in a Test match doubleheader.
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“The opening of the travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand from New Zealand and an agreement by the parties on revised commercial outcomes has enabled the joint venture to consider alternative solutions in addressing our two key objectives of commercial viability and player welfare,” SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said.
“Rugby Australia and SANZAR, with the support of the NSW Government, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand, have been proactive in putting numerous workable solutions forward that have now enabled us to adjust the draw.
“The final revised draw will see the Australia versus New Zealand match originally scheduled for the December 12 as a double-header in Sydney moved to October 31 as a stand-alone game.
“The South Africa versus Argentina match as planned for December 12 has been moved to Newcastle.
“This year has been a year of continued adjustment where the SANZAAR partners have had to compromise on a number of levels.
“It is important to further acknowledge the sacrifice of a number of the players and team management that will have been away from home for close to six months by the time The Rugby Championship has concluded.
“This is again a testament to the strong values that encompass our game.
“I would also like to thank our rights-holding broadcasters for accommodating this late change and for continuing to support us through these challenges as well as the New South Wales Government for its support and flexibility with regard to the tournament and match venues.
“The 12-match Rugby Championship is now all set for kick-off.
“The Argentina Pumas have already arrived in Australia and we all look forward to an exciting and vibrant tournament that will undoubtedly showcase the best of southern hemisphere rugby,” added Marinos.
Rugby Australia Interim Chief Executive Rob Clarke said: “I really have to thank the New South Wales Government, under the leadership of Gladys Berejiklian as well as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her Government in Queensland for their flexibility and support in accommodating this late change.
“Both Governments have been terrific partners in ensuring this tournament goes ahead and in helping deliver world-class Rugby for fans across New South Wales and Queensland as well as to the global television audience that will be tuning in.
“I’m pleased this draw is now resolved and that the SANZAAR joint venture has reached a suitable compromise. Each party has had to sacrifice something, and I think that is a true indication of the strength of the SANZAAR alliance,” Clarke said.
The Argentina team has already arrived in Australia and is completing training under strict health regulations, governed by NSW Health and NSW Police.
South Africa’s participation remains to be confirmed as the decision is dependent on several factors outside the control of SANZAAR.
However, it is a positive sign that the Super Rugby Unlocked tournament kicks-off in South Africa on Friday 9 October.