New Zealand refusing to travel to Perth for their match against Australia and cancelling two home Tests against South Africa, a move which has left Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie “bloody angry”.
New Zealand released an unforeseen statement on Friday explaining that, due to the uncertainty surrounding the forthcoming fixtures, they would not be travelling to Australia for the final Bledisloe Cup match on August 28.
The statement also added that government advice was that the world champion Springboks would not be admitted to New Zealand for matches on September 25 and October 2. Forthcoming matches between the New Zealand women’s team and Australia also have been cancelled.
Stay safe & look after each other Aotearoa. We’ll get through this ❤️🇳🇿 pic.twitter.com/8jaVUJGqxO
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 18, 2021
“We share the disappointment of our fans, players and other stakeholders, particularly those in Dunedin where the sold-out 100th Test between the All Blacks and South Africa was shaping up as a very special occasion,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.
However, after discussions with Government, it is clear that the Covid-19 travel restrictions meant there was no way of bringing the South African and Wallaroos squads into New Zealand.
“We understand the importance of putting the health and safety of New Zealanders first.”
The All Blacks were due to leave for Perth on Sunday, but there were already doubts around whether the Test could take place due to the West Australian state government pausing quarantine-free travel from New Zealand. The All Blacks would have had to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Australia, although the Herald also reported on Friday that Rugby Australia was close to agreeing on an exemption and that the Test might still be scheduled for September 4.
“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,” Robinson added. “Once the team leaves our shores, they currently can’t return until November 23, [after] their northern tour. So given the uncertainty, it makes sense to pause and get more clarity on these fixtures.”
Later on Friday, Rennie aimed at NZR’s handling of the situation, specifically regarding the lack of consultation.
The Australian head coach said he was “bloody angry” about the lack of consultation. “It’s disappointing how it’s been communicated,” he said. “Our boys all found out through social media. NZ Rugby didn’t even have the respect to consulting RA about their decision, so that’s hugely disappointing.
“We made a commitment to play a Test in Auckland on August 7 and while we had players that had already been away for six weeks out of NSW, we honoured that commitment.
“They asked us to play an extra game because we couldn’t go back to Wellington on the 28th and we honoured that as well. They committed to come here on the 21st, which they pushed back to the 28th, and now they’re not coming.
“We’re in limbo a little bit now, too. I just feel there is only one of us who are interested in doing what’s best for the game. It tells you more about them than us, I would say.”
Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos said the announcement was made despite ongoing discussions with 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.
Sanzaar also expressed its disappointment in NZR’s decision.
“Sanzaar is very disappointed that the New Zealand Rugby Union has made the decision not to travel to Perth at this time to play Australia for its second-round match [and Third Bledisloe match],” the statement said.
“However, Sanzaar and the other national unions will continue to work on when and where this match can be played as part of the overall rescheduling work being done. Sanzaar also recognises that this decision is incredibly disappointing for rugby fans in Perth.”