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Christmas row defused as All Blacks' clash with Wallabies is rescheduled

New Zealand Rugby was up in arms when the initial schedule of the four-nation tournament was released.

The Wallabies and the All Blacks will clash on 31 October.
The Wallabies and the All Blacks will clash on 31 October.
Image: AAP/PA Images

THE ALL BLACKS will make it home for Christmas after their final Rugby Championship clash against the Wallabies was shifted, defusing a festering row.

New Zealand Rugby was up in arms when the initial schedule of the four-nation southern hemisphere tournament in Australia was released, with their last game set for 12 December.

They claimed it snubbed their push for a 5 December finish so players could complete Covid-enforced quarantine requirements and be home for the festive season.

Governing body Sanzaar have relented, with the 12 December game now being played in Sydney as the opening fixture on 31 October, making the tournament a seven-week affair rather than six.

“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,” said NZ Rugby chief Mark Robinson. “It is great news that we now have certainty on the draw and we’re really excited about the fantastic rugby to come.”

Following the opening game, the revised draw will see five straight weeks of double-headers from 7 November when Argentina face South Africa, then the All Blacks take on Australia again, both at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.

Argentina are already in Australia and in quarantine, although the fate of South Africa remains uncertain, given their lack of match practice.

While Australia and New Zealand have both completed domestic Super Rugby tournaments, rugby only restarted in South Africa two weekends ago after a six-month suspension due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

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Opinions there are divided as to whether an inevitably underprepared squad should play — partly to boost the coffers of a national body sorely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sanzaar acknowledged the Springboks’ participation “remains to be confirmed”, but said there were positive signs with South Africa’s domestic Super Rugby Unlocked tournament kicking off tomorrow.

A final decision is expected in the coming days.

Rugby Championship

  • 31 October: Australia v New Zealand at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium
  • 7 November: Argentina v South Africa followed by Australia v New Zealand at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium
  • 14 November: New Zealand v Argentina followed by South Africa v Australia at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium
  • 21 November: New Zealand v South Africa followed by Australia v Argentina at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium
  • 28 November: Argentina v Australia followed by South Africa v New Zealand at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium
  • 5 December: Argentina v New Zealand followed by Australia v South Africa at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium
  • 12 December: South Africa v Argentina at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium

© – AFP, 2020

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