Rugby Australia claims it has been blindsided by New Zealand Rugby’s decision not to send the All Blacks to Perth on Sunday to play the third Bledisloe Cup Test.
The Rugby Championship fixture was thrown into chaos by New Zealand’s announcement on Friday, which RA called a “unilateral decision”.
The All Blacks were initially scheduled to fly to Perth on Sunday in preparation for the third Test at Optus Stadium on August 28, which also doubled as a Rugby Championship fixture.
But with NZ in lockdown with rising COVID cases and the uncertainty around the schedule, NZR pulled the pin.
The Black Ferns’ two Tests against the Wallaroos in NZ have also been canned as well the All Blacks’ two home Tests against South Africa.
The All Blacks were due to play South Africa in Dunedin on September 25 and in Auckland on October 2.
Furious RA boss Andy Marinos said they were informed by the media of the decision despite ongoing discussions with his NZ opposite Mark Robinson.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to be informed of this decision via the media, despite having a conversation with the CEO moments before and there no mention that this was the intention,” Marinos said in a statement.
He felt that discussions between all parties, including the Western Australia government, had been positive and they were “close to finding a solution” with a meeting scheduled with SANZAAR later for Friday.
RA said it will work through alternative dates for the match to still be played in Perth, with close to 60,000 tickets already sold for the match.
It’s believed that the WA government was set to allow the All Blacks into the state, provided they arrived seven days before the match and completed “soft” quarantine, as interstate AFL teams currently do.
But Robinson said that they weren’t prepared to send the team to Perth with so much uncertainty around travel and scheduling, with Queensland and even Europe mooted as possible host locations for the Rugby Championship.
“Without complete certainty on the team’s next movements around the Rugby Championship we felt it was prudent for the team to stay put in New Zealand until SANZAAR have announced the full tournament schedule,” Robinson said.
“Once the team leaves our shores, they currently can’t return until November 23 post their northern tour, so given the uncertainty, it makes sense to pause and get more clarity on these fixtures.
“We remain 100 per cent committed to playing in the entire Rugby Championship in 2021 and are working closely with SANZAAR to look at a range of options to reschedule these important matches.”
The Wallabies landed in Perth last Sunday following the second Test in Auckland and it’s unclear what their next move is.