Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has backed New Zealand’s position in a scheduling row surrounding the Rugby Championship.
Rennie says that it is understandable that New Zealand Rugby is unhappy with the prospect of their players being stuck in quarantine until after Christmas due to the 12 December finish date for the rescheduled tournament.
Rennie backs All Blacks
The man who replaced Michael Cheika couldn’t say whether this scheduling conflict will be resolved but believes it would be “hypocritical of us [Australia] now to not support New Zealand when we thought it was a good idea,” Rennie said in reference to an agreement between Rugby Australia and NZR when the tournament looked set to be held across the Tasman.
As things stand the All Blacks squad would be subject to a 14-day quarantine that would mean players would not be able to spend Christmas Day with their families.
The Springboks will also be required to complete a period of quarantine but may do so at home when they return to South Africa provided they do not test positive for the virus.
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said they were instead considering “a whole lot of different options” to get around a problem that could cause a player revolt.
As things stand, SANZAAR are stuck between a rock and a hard place with the tight schedule already raising serious questions about player welfare. The four Rugby Championship teams will be required to play six Test matches in six weeks, which is in some ways tougher that a Rugby World Cup schedule.
The Springboks come into the Rugby Championship seriously underdone and could lean heavily on their players based in Europe which may ruffle the feathers of some clubs.
From both a playing and organisational point of view rugby is treading a perilous path back to some form of normality and financial stability.
Rennie said while The Wallabies supported the All Blacks’ request, a change of itinerary “needs to be unanimous” within the four-nation SANZAAR organisation.
The Wallabies coach added that there was talk of a bubble encompassing New South Wales and New Zealand
“If that [bubble] comes in before Christmas then it’s a non-issue. They’ll be able to go straight home to their families and that’s what we want. It’s been a tough year for everyone.”
Wallabies in New Zealand for Bledisloe action
Rennie and his 40-strong Wallaby squad, including 16 newcomers, arrived in New Zealand late Friday ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington on 11 October.
The Wallabies are completing their 14-day quarantine in a hotel in Christchurch, and will be allowed out to begin training Tuesday with Rennie keen to start shaping his match-day 23 players.
“There’s still some positions up for grabs,” he said.
“I’ve always said that we’re going to pick on form. And you know, if you’re good enough your old enough so there’s no doubt some of the young men are going to put some serious heat on for a spot in that 23.”
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