9 Oct 2020

NZR refuse to confirm cost of Rugby Championship fixture changes

10:17 am on 9 October 2020

New Zealand Rugby have refused to say whether they will take a financial hit from forcing a change in the Rugby Championship fixtures to ensure the All Blacks are not in isolation over the Christmas break

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson. Photo: Photosport

Southern hemisphere rugby's governing body SANZAAR and hosts Rugby Australia confirmed on Thursday that they had changed the fixture list and shifted the final New Zealand-Australia match from 12 December to 31 October.

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday that NZR would probably need to offset any loss of revenue from a changed schedule, but NZR chief executive Mark Robinson declined to even discuss it on Friday.

"We are happy with the arrangement," Robinson told reporters on a conference call. "It's commercially sensitive but we're comfortable with it."

Robinson refused to say what being "comfortable" with the arrangement meant, nor would he confirm if NZR, which had publicly said it projected a reduction in revenue of up to 70 percent this year, would suffer a further loss.

"We have come up with something that we are happy with and are moving on," Robinson said.

NZR had been at loggerheads with SANZAAR and Rugby Australia over the original fixture list, with the Rugby Championship scheduled from 7 November to 12 December.

The All Blacks are subject to New Zealand's strict bio-security rules to stop the spread of the novwel coronavirus upon their return home and would have spent 14 days in isolation, leaving them away from their families for Christmas.

NZR, the players' union and the team all said they were unhappy with that possibility and coach Ian Foster revealed that he had been confronted by at least one player who said he did not want to spend the Christmas break in isolation.

Foster, who will name his first squad later on Friday for Sunday's Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia, welcomed the changed fixture list.

"It's good that commonsense has won the day," he said.