Siya Kolisi during the Rugby Championship match between SA and Australia at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on September 29 2018 in Port Elizabeth. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ RICHARD HUGGARD
Siya Kolisi during the Rugby Championship match between SA and Australia at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on September 29 2018 in Port Elizabeth. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ RICHARD HUGGARD

Wellington — Southern hemisphere rugby fans may finally get some clarity about the 2020 Rugby Championship after a planned conference call between the Sanzaar partners on Thursday.

Covid-19 has kept administrators on the back foot trying to nail down plans for the annual Test championship involving SA, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.

Such is the uncertainty, All Blacks coach Ian Foster named his first squad on Sunday even though there is little sense of when the team might play beyond tentative plans for Bledisloe Cup matches against Australia in October.

Sanzaar has released little information since saying in July that they were keen on hosting the championship in a “hub” scenario in the November-December Test window. It gave a likely location of New Zealand after the country’s early success in containing the pandemic, but August’s resurgence of infections in Auckland may have opened up other possibilities.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this week she was still keen to host the tournament, but noted the choice of venue would not come down just to her government.

“I think we’re doing enough to make it a real possibility,” she told radio station Newstalk ZB. “We’ve kept that door open in good faith, gone through all those protocols, but ultimately we’re not the only ones making that decision.”

The Sydney Morning Herald said on Wednesday that Sanzaar was now considering Australia as a possible host nation. Administrators have also had to contend with six Pumas players testing positive for Covid-19 as Argentinian team entered a bio-secure bubble last week.

The Pumas and world champions Springboks have not played since March when the international edition of Super Rugby was postponed, although SA are hoping to launch a domestic competition in October.

The hosting uncertainty has prompted frustration from New Zealand pundits, who watched fans flock to their domestic Super Rugby competition before social distancing restrictions were reimposed in August.

On Tuesday, former All Blacks winger John Kirwan said to Sky Sports: “We’ve made all this sacrifice to make [New Zealand] the safest country in the world and what is happening? I also want to know why New Zealand Rugby is not putting some pressure on. Why are we quiet? Where is our transparency, people? We need to know.”

Reuters

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