Rugby Australia has hit out their New Zealand counterparts for a last minute decision not to travel to Australia which blindsided them and put the entire Rugby Championship at risk.
Saturday’s third Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and All Blacks in Perth was cancelled after New Zealand Rugby confirmed the Kiwis would not travel amid ongoing Covid uncertainty in both countries
The news came as a shock to Rugby Australia who labelled it a “unilateral” decision made by NZR despite positive discussions and without any warning.
RA boss Andy Marinos said they only found out via the media.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to be informed of this decision via the media, despite having a conversation with the CEO moments before and there no mention that this was the intention,” Marinos said.
“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 were confident we were close to finding a solution.
“Australia has proven its ability to host International Rugby in the current climate, and it is something we will continue to work towards.”
The All Blacks, who secured the Bledisloe Cup last week in game two in Auckland, had been scheduled to travel to WA this weekend to face the Wallabies in game three.
Almost 60,000 tickets to the scheduled fixture at Optus Stadium had been sold by Thursday.
But the trip has been cancelled amid New Zealand’s growing Covid concern.
The All Blacks had been given a deadline of arriving in Perth on Saturday by the WA Health authorities for the game to go ahead.
They had planned to fly into Perth from Auckland on Sunday, six days before the game, and join the Wallabies who have been in WA for a week and undergo regular Covid testing.
But NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said it was safer for the All Blacks to “stay put”.
“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.