Wallabies coach Dave Rennie says he is “bloody angry” about the way New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced its decision not to send the All Blacks to Perth to play the third Bledisloe Cup Test.
- The All Blacks will remain in New Zealand until SANZAAR have announced the full Rugby Championship schedule
- There is uncertainty around the Wallabies’ next move after landing in Perth last Sunday
- The Black Ferns’ two Tests against the Wallaroos in New Zealand also won’t be going ahead
The Rugby Championship was thrown into chaos by New Zealand’s announcement on Friday, which Rugby Australia called a “unilateral decision”.
The All Blacks were initially scheduled to fly to Perth on Sunday in preparation for the Test, which was to be played on August 28..
But with New Zealand in lockdown with rising COVID-19 cases and the uncertainty around the schedule, NZR decided not to send the All Blacks squad.
Rennie said he was deeply upset with how NZR announced the decision.
“[I’m] Bloody angry,” he said.
“It’s disappointing with how it’s been communicated. Our boys all found out through social media.
Rennie said he believed RA had done a significant amount over the past 15 months to accommodate NZR.
That included changing fixtures last year to ensure All Blacks players would not have to quarantine during Christmas.
“I just feel there’s only one of us who are interested in doing what’s best for the game,” Rennie said.
“We’ve all made sacrifices to ensure that the games are played for the financial benefit of everyone and the good of the game.
“If they’re playing the welfare card, well our NSW guys haven’t been home for eight weeks already with no clear end in sight either, with the likelihood that guys won’t get home until late November.
RA chief executive Andy Marinos said his organisation was informed by the media of New Zealand’s decision, despite ongoing discussions with NZR’s chief executive 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 [was] no mention that this was the intention,” Marinos said in a statement.
“Despite this outcome, I am confident we will find a solution for the whole Rugby Championship in what continues to be a very challenging environment in which to work.
“We have been engaging in positive discussions with both teams as well as government partners and we’re confident we were close to finding a solution.”
Marinos said he felt that discussions between all parties, including the West Australian government, had been positive and they were “close to finding a solution” with a meeting scheduled with the Rugby Championship’s governing body SANZAAR later for Friday.
RA said it would 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 is believed the West Australian 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 were not 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 Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland.
The Black Ferns’ two Tests against the Wallaroos in New Zealand have also been called off, as well as 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.