Picture: 123RF/RADUTUTA
Picture: 123RF/RADUTUTA

Hosts Rugby Australia (RA) and organisers Sanzaar have revealed a revised schedule for the 2020 Rugby Championship after bowing to pressure from  New Zealand Rugby (NZR), with the competition now to kick off a week earlier.

Australia’s clash with New Zealand that was scheduled for December 12 will be played on October 31 after NZR objected to the original date as it meant their players would have to spend Christmas in quarantine due to the country’s strict Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The initial fixture list saw the competition start on November 7.

The row over the scheduling had soured relations between New Zealand and Australia, RA chair Hamish McLennan admitted this week, though NZR CEO Mark Robinson adopted a more conciliatory tone in a statement on Thursday.

“We’d like to thank our colleagues at Sanzaar and Rugby Australia for the time and effort that has gone into finalising a schedule that is workable for all,” he said. “It is great news that we now have certainty on the draw and we’re really excited about the fantastic rugby to come.”

The teams are scheduled to play two Bledisloe Cup Tests before the start of the competition, the first on Sunday followed by another clash on October 18.

All matches involving Argentina and world champions SA will remain as scheduled, and the pair will now close out the competition on December 12 at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium. The game was originally scheduled for Sydney.

SA Rugby have not confirmed their participation though as worries about lack of preparation time and player welfare persist, with the country’s domestic competition only set to start this weekend.

“This year has been a year of continued adjustment where the Sanzaar partners have had to compromise on a number of levels,” Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos admitted in a statement on Thursday.

Australia was chosen to host the entire southern hemisphere championship this year. Argentina have already arrived in the country to start their preparations this week.

Reuters

Revised Rugby Championship schedule:

Oct 31, Sydney, Australia vs New Zealand; Nov 7, Brisbane, Argentina vs SA; Australia vs New Zealand; Nov 14, Sydney, New Zealand vs Argentina; SA vs Australia; Nov 21, Sydney, New Zealand v SA; Australia vs Argentina; Nov 28, Newcastle, Argentina vs Australia; SA v New Zealand; Dec 5, Sydney, Argentina v New Zealand; Australia vs SA; Dec 12, Newcastle, SA vs Argentina 

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