All Blacks fume over Rugby Championship schedule

New Zealand Rugby has slammed the Rugby Championship scheduling, which means the All Blacks will have to spend Christmas Day in hotel quarantine.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said in a statement it had not agreed to the announced schedule of matches, and it had hoped New Zealand’s final game would be played on December 5.

However, the fixtures released today show the final scheduled match will take place in Sydney on December 12.

Due to the New Zealand Government’s requirement all returning travellers must undertake two weeks of quarantine, that means the All Blacks would be in isolation until December 26 at the earliest.

“The wellbeing of our people is an incredibly important factor,” NZR boss Mark Robinson said.

Australian players watch New Zealand perform the Haka ahead of the Wallabies' match with the All Blacks, Eden Park, AucklandAustralian players watch New Zealand perform the Haka ahead of the Wallabies' match with the All Blacks, Eden Park, Auckland
The Wallabies will play the All Blacks on November 7 in Brisbane and December 12 in Sydney.(Reuters: Ross Setford)

“We are committed to playing in the Rugby Championship and we know the scheduling of matches has been a complex and dynamic issue to work through, especially with quarantine protocols.

“We will now work through the issues with Rugby Australia and SANZAAR and believe that there are other solutions within the Rugby Championship window.”

SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos said it had taken “a lot of hard work to get to this point” and that the rescheduling “has not been ideal”.

The tournament, featuring six double-header match days will start with the Springboks opening its title defence against Argentina in Brisbane, followed by the Wallabies taking on the All Blacks on November 7.

Among a number of All Blacks players and near the goalposts, Michael Hooper raises both hands to the sky and smiles.Among a number of All Blacks players and near the goalposts, Michael Hooper raises both hands to the sky and smiles.
Michael Hooper will captain the Wallabies at the Rugby Championship.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

After that, the competition shifts to New South Wales, with further matches taking place at Stadium Australia, Parramatta Stadium and in Newcastle.

SANZAAR announced Australia would host the six-week tournament earlier this month after New Zealand could not guarantee players from visiting teams could train together due to quarantine requirements.

Prior to the Rugby Championship, New Zealand will host the Wallabies in two Bledisloe Cup Tests on October 11 and 18.

The New Zealand Government said it would relax its quarantine rules to ensure the Wallabies would be able to prepare properly for the matches.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had spoken with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and told him her country’s strict biosecurity regulations could be eased to ensure a level playing field.