Rugby: All Blacks Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship tests thrown into disarray by border closure

Rugby: All Blacks Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship tests thrown into disarray by border closure

Closing the transtasman bubble for at least eight weeks has thrown plans for the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship into disarray.

The All Blacks are scheduled to host the Wallabies at Eden Park on August 7 in the opening Bledisloe with two tests supposed to follow in Perth and Wellington next month.

New Zealand Rugby will be in scramble mode, working with the Government and their Sanzaar partners, as they attempt to plot contingency plans for the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.

After announcing the bubble closure for at least the next two months, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed there was an avenue the Wallabies may utilise to travel to New Zealand within the next seven days.

Dave Rennie’s team could travel to New Zealand by utilising an economic impact exemption, potentially remaining in the country for an extended period, which could result in the All Blacks hosting all three Bledisloe tests.

Rugby: All Blacks Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship tests thrown into disarray by border closure

Upcoming All Blacks tests have been thrown into disarray. Photo / Photosport

“If there are significant economic issues that are brought up by the closure in that seven-day window that can be resolved, then we have a delegated minister to work through any of those issues,” Ardern said.

“However, it must be in the seven-day window, we are not making exceptions outside of that. Everyone else has to go into quarantine.”

The bubble pauses from 11.59pm on Friday night, but managed return flights over the next seven days will allow Kiwi citizens and residents to come home.

In addition to the three Bledisloe matches, plans are in place for New Zealand to host four further tests during the Rugby Championship – two each against the world champion Springboks and Pumas – in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin from September 11 to October 2.

Those matches include the All Blacks’ 100th test against the Springboks in Dunedin on September 25.

Last year the Tri Nations, featuring the All Blacks, Wallabies and Pumas after the Springboks opted out of attending, was originally planned to be staged in New Zealand.

After issues with teams being unable to train together as full squads while in quarantine arose, however, the tournament was shifted to Australia.

From a financial standpoint alone NZ Rugby’s preference will be to host as many matches as possible this year and with full crowds currently able to attend, they have an advantage over Sydney where Covid cases continue to climb.

Yet the same issue with restrictive training environments is likely to again cause problems and the bigger issue is New Zealand’s MIQ spots are booked until the end of November.

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