RA eager to host 2021 Rugby Championship
SPOTLIGHT: New Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos is urging powerbrokers to “get on the front foot” as he pushes to host the entire Rugby Championship later this year.
Australia hosted what became the Tri-Nations last year after South Africa’s late withdrawal and Marinos expects this year’s tournament won’t be able to avoid another COVID-19 bubble scenario.
Speaking at the launch of this weekend’s Aon Uni Sevens, where some of Australia’s female stars will get much-needed game time ahead of their Olympic title defence in Tokyo, Marinos said he’s put the ball in governing body SANZAAR’s court.
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“I think we’ve all resigned ourselves to the fact that we’re probably going to be in a bubble in some way, shape or form,” Marinos, a former SANZAAR CEO, said.
“We successfully hosted the Tri-Nations last year on a very short turnaround; our request to SANZAAR is let’s get ahead of the game a lot earlier and be able to build a proper model.
“I think there’s a fair appetite [to] host it here in Australia again and it’s something that we’ll put a lot of effort into.”
It comes after what Marinos described as a “surprise” announcement that the British and Irish Lions would continue with plans to tour South Africa despite the likelihood of no crowds and Australia offering to host the spectacle instead.
Marinos also said France’s visit to Australia could be pushed back to mid-July, with the in-form French potentially arriving in two waves to accommodate the players involved in the Top 14 final on June 26.
Domestically he said it remained “all systems go” for May’s five-week trans-Tasman Super Rugby tournament, providing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirms the travel bubble between the countries on April 6.
Marinos said a hub to accommodate the five-week tournament in one location was still an option if the bubble was not in place.
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Meanwhile, New Zealand’s sevens outfits could play much-needed games in Australia in June before flying directly to Tokyo for the Games.
Like Australia and Fiji, the world champions have been unable to participate in the world tour because of tight travel restrictions and a two-week hotel quarantine on arrival.
Australian coach John Manenti is also monitoring the fitness of star trio Ellia Green [knee], Emma Tonegato [shoulder] and Chloe Dalton [back] as they do their best to prepare a gold medal defence.
National players will be shared between teams for the domestic sevens competition, while they will also train in the Northern Territory to acclimatise to the expected Tokyo heat.
“I would love to be going to Dubai this week to play, Madrid Sevens was a few weeks ago, would have loved to be there as well,” Manenti said.
“But two weeks in a hotel room would be detrimental to our preparation.
“There’s going to be a bit of hope in what we’re doing is the right thing but they’re very strange times and New Zealand and Fiji, both very strong teams, are in same situation.”