Bledisloe Cup in doubt as travel bubble bursts

2 months ago 26
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Rugby Australia and their Kiwi counterparts are working to salvage the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship after the New Zealand government pushed pause on the trans-Tasman travel bubble for the next eight weeks.

The Wallabies were set to play Bledisloe Tests in Auckland on August 7, Perth on August 21, and Wellington on August 28.

That schedule is likely no longer possible thanks to COVID-19 outbreaks in Australia but NZ Rugby said it remained committed to delivering "world class rugby" this season.

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Jordan Petaia of the Wallabies is tackled during the Bledisloe Cup. (Getty)

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern left the door open for the Wallabies to travel across the ditch in the next seven days, a scenario which could see NZ host all three Bledisloe Tests.

The bubble will pause from midnight (NZT) tonight but there are managed flights over the next week to allow Kiwis to return home from Australia.

RA chief executive Andy Marinos said his organisation was still evaluating its options.

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"The Wallabies team have been in a secure bubble since the conclusion of the France series, with the squad assembled on the Gold Coast," Marinos said.

"The players are regularly PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tested and have maintained strict bio-security protocols as recommended by the return to play committee and the relevant health authorities," Marinos said.

"We are working closely with New Zealand Rugby and the various governments through different scenarios now.

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"Rugby Australia's position has always been to prioritise the health and safety of its players, staff and fans, and today's announcement only reinforces that.

"We want to thank the Australian government as well as the New Zealand government for their support so far, as we aim for a positive outcome in the coming days."

The Rugby Championship also features South Africa and Argentina but finding a Bledisloe solution is the immediate priority.

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"We know the uncertainty this creates is challenging for our fans, players and partners, but remain committed to finding a path forward and continuing to deliver world class rugby in 2021," NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.

"We are continuing to work closely with the New Zealand government to explore the option of bringing Australia across the Tasman for the two Bledisloe Cup Tests.

"As we have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic our decisions will continue be guided by the advice of relevant government and health authorities with the health and safety of our people at the forefront of any decisions.

Caleb Clarke of the All Blacks makes a break during the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park. (Getty)

"It's important we evaluate all of our options before finalising any plans."

SANZAAR said it remained "confident" that the Rugby Championship would go ahead.

"SANZAAR and its member unions... will now work with the respective governments and health authorities in Australia and New Zealand, as we have successfully done recently with Super Rugby, to find the best solutions for the tournament given this latest development," SANZAAR chief executive Brendan Morris said.

This article was originally published on stuff.co.nz and is reproduced with permission

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