Rugby Australia interim CEO Rob Clarke. Picture: REUTERS / LOREN ELLIOTT
Rugby Australia interim CEO Rob Clarke. Picture: REUTERS / LOREN ELLIOTT

Rugby Australia (RA) is in talks with the government about allowing teams from New Zealand, SA and Argentina to enter the country and be based in a “hub” for a condensed Rugby Championship later in 2020.

After a two-month lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, Australian authorities have allowed sports to restart domestic competition but international fixtures remain in doubt due to travel curbs and border controls.

“We’re exploring with the Australian government whether that can be a bubble here in Australia and we fly in all of the Sanzaar partners and they are in a training bubble and then we can quarantine effectively and play a competition,” RA interim CEO Rob Clarke said in Sydney on Tuesday.

Sanzaar, comprises partner rugby unions in Australia, New Zealand, SA and Argentina, is the governing body of the four-nation Rugby Championship and Super Rugby.

Australian and New Zealand officials have spoken for weeks of opening up a “trans-Tasman bubble” of restriction-free travel between the two countries, which have reduced Covid-19 infections to a trickle.

New Zealand Rugby did not provide immediate comment. Clarke confirmed RA was trying to extend the annual Bledisloe Cup series between the Wallabies and All Blacks to four Tests from the usual three.

“It’s a great product, gains a lot of attention and we feel at least a four-game series is something we can work into the calendar this year to work for them and us,” Clarke said.

RA said on Monday it would lay off a third of its full-time staff along with dozens of contactors and casual workers to cope with financial pressures brought by Covid-19. Clarke said RA’s high performance programmes would not be affected.

“A key part of our financial underpinning is a successful Wallabies,” he said. “It’s not everything, but it’s certainly key so we’ll be protecting that as much as possible.” 


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