New Zealand opted not to travel to Australia for their third Bledisloe Cup fixture against the Wallabies, scheduled to take place in Perth this weekend, and cancelled two other games against South Africa after advice from their government.
It prompted an angry reaction from Australia head coach Dave Rennie who accused the All Blacks of a lack of respect. “I think it's disappointing how it has been communicated. Our boys all found out through social media,” said the former Glasgow Warriors coach.
With Australia and New Zealand locked down, organisers had weighed up whether to move the championship to Europe or South Africa, but the Australian state of Queensland is low on Covid-19 cases and has been deemed a safe host.
While Australia-New Zealand will remain at Perth, with a date to be announced “in the coming days”, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Townsville will host the other games involving the two Antipodean countries, South Africa and Argentina.
“We have a fantastic tournament ahead, a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos, who added the fixtures will be double-headers over four successive weekends, starting from September 12.
“When we looked at the construct of the Rugby Championship this year, it was always going to be held between Australia and New Zealand and when New Zealand’s position changed because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Australia remained the preferred option.
“So I think everyone just believed that we needed to close that loop before we looked at anything else.”