18 Sep 2020

Rugby Championship: All Blacks schedule sorted by end of next week?

2:47 pm on 18 September 2020

New Zealand Rugby hope to have a schedule for the All Blacks Rugby Championship campaign by the end of next week, then they will ask players if they want to go.

All Blacks Sam Cane and Sam Whitelock.


New Zealand Rugby Players association boss Rob Nichol said no players have yet decided they won't attend the tournament, though he concedes there are concerns around the length of time they'll be away from home.

The All Blacks will spend several days together next week and Nichol said it would be nice to be able to give the players some clarity.

"Hopefully by the end of next week we've got something clear. The team is going into camp next week and it would be kind of nice if by the end of that we have something that looks even 90 or 95 percent complete for the players to look at.

"The major one is that length of time away from home, but even beyond that it's more about where each individual is at and what they've got going on in their family and personal lives."

Nichol concedes the Rugby Championship may not go ahead, but he said the All Blacks are committed to playing two return Bledisloe Cup tests in Australia regardless.

South African rugby have made it clear their participation in tournament is still up in the air, with the very real prospect of the Springboks not attending.

The same can be said for Argentina, after several players and their head coach tested positive for Covid-19.

Nichol said if South Africa decide to skip the competition, the All Blacks are still keen to head across the ditch for two tests against the Wallabies.

"We would still go for the Bledisloe tests is I think is everyone's view.

"Obviously we'll play the two Bledisloe tests here (NZ), then if we head to Australia (and the Springboks/Argentina weren't there) then we'd still go to play the Bleds [sic] anyway. Then we'd be able to come home early, which I think on the dates if you play two or three tests then you would get back towards the end of November."

Nichol said New Zealand Rugby haven't ruled out sending the All Blacks to Australia in seperate groups at different times.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said earlier this week he liked the idea of bringing a group of 10 players to Australia a week later, and also in sending 10 home a week before the end.

However, he doubted travel and quarantine restrictions would allow that, and he'll name an extended of 46 for the tournament.

Nichol said at this point all options are being explored, but ultimately that decision may be out of their control.

"Another part to that is the Australian Government's approach around that. If the Federal Government is saying we're happy for you to bring the whole squad in and you have to quarantine and stay for the whole tournament and then return together, if they'er saying that's all we're prepared to do, then that takes that option (of taking seperate groups at different times) off the table.

Nichol said All Blacks will be asked to play six tests over five weeks in Australia if the Rugby Championship goes ahead.

He said having the players in quarantine during Christmas is not an option.

"Each team is going to have to deal with the fact that we've got to be out of Australia by the 6th of December, that's the date everyone's talking about. Clearly the draw has got to be looked at pretty closely and be quite innovative, but you're looking at six test matches over five weeks to make sure that no-one is in quarantine over Christmas because that was never going to work for anyone."

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