Rugby Championship fixtures: Springboks and All Blacks facing Christmas quarantine

SANZAAR and tournament hosts, Rugby Australia, have announced the match schedule and venues for the 2020 Rugby Championship but the Springboks and All Blacks are not thrilled.

The tournament is set to wrap up on 12 December meaning that if existing travel restrictions remain in place players returning to New Zealand and South Africa will still be in quarantine over Christmas.

Rugby Championship fixtures announced

Responding to the announced schedule, New Zealand Rugby refused to rule out boycotting the end of this year’s Rugby Championship in Australia.

“We haven’t agreed to this schedule and are disappointed at the announcement,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.

“It’s far too early to land on exactly what the solutions or outcomes are at the moment. We’re going to take a few days to keep working with all the key players.”

Single host tournament creates issues

The entire 12-match, 6-week tournament is set to take place in Australia and will be played in Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney between 7 November and 12 December.  

The tournament will kick-off at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on 7 November before moving to New South Wales for the remaining five rounds, with matches to be played at Bankwest Stadium and ANZ Stadium in Sydney, and McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.

Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa will be required to observe all health regulations around their squads imposed upon them by the New South Wales and Queensland governments. 

The teams will be kept separate and will operate within a bio-secure ‘bubble’ during this period with all team environments monitored by New South Wales police. The wellness of the squads will be continually monitored in line with New South Wales Health requirements.

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said thecurrent global situation meant the Springboks and Pumas have not enjoyed the same standard of preparation as the Walabies and All Blacks, and asking players to compete in six Tests over five weeks risked “career-ending injuries”.

Marinos acknowledged the 12 December option was an issue for New Zealand but said “we’ve exhausted every other option” but hoped officials in Wellington could tweak quarantine rules for the team.

Rugby Championship schedule not ideal

Asked if he thought the dispute would result in a curtailed Rugby Championship, he replied: “I don’t think so, there’s too much at stake.”

“It has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, but we are delighted that we can now confirm the match dates and venues for The Rugby Championship 2020,” Marinos said.

“The Rugby Championship is one of the game’s showpiece events and includes some of the best rugby talent in the world.”

“While the rescheduling and reconfiguration of the Super Rugby season has not been ideal all the member unions have been committed in getting rugby back on the field and the culmination of this will be The Rugby Championship in Australia. I would like to thank all of our Unions and their staff for their dedication and hard work since the onset of this pandemic. Our Broadcasters and Commercial partners have been fantastic in working with us and continually adapting in what has been a very dynamic environment.”

The Rugby Championship 2020 fixtures

Round One – Saturday 7 November 2020

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Argentina v South Africa

Australia v New Zealand

Round Two – Saturday 14 November

Bankwest Stadium, Sydney

New Zealand v Argentina

South Africa v Australia

Round Three – Saturday 21 November

ANZ Stadium, Sydney

New Zealand v South Africa

Australia v Argentina

Round Four – Saturday 28 November

McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Argentina v Australia

South Africa v New Zealand

Round Five – Saturday 5 December

Bankwest Stadium, Sydney

Argentina v New Zealand

Australia v South Africa

Round Six – Saturday 12 December

ANZ Stadium, Sydney

South Africa v Argentina

Australia v New Zealand

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