Covid chaos hits Bledisloe Cup

The future of the third Bledisloe Cup clash and the Rugby Championship are up in the air after next Saturday’s match between the Wallabies and All Blacks in Perth was cancelled.

New Zealand Rugby confirmed the All Blacks would not travel to Western Australia amid ongoing uncertainty over border closures in Australia.

The All Blacks, who secured the Bledisloe Cup last week in game two in Auckland, had been scheduled to travel to WA this weekend to face the Wallabies in game three.

Almost 60,000 tickets to the scheduled fixture at Optus Stadium had been sold by Thursday.

But the trip has been cancelled amid New Zealand’s growing Covid concern.

The All Blacks had been given a deadline of arriving in Perth on Saturday by the WA Health authorities for the game to go ahead.

They had planned to fly into Perth from Auckland on Sunday, six days before the game, and join the Wallabies who have been in WA for a week and undergo regular Covid testing.

New Zealand players celebrates with the Bledisloe Cup in Auckland. Picture: Michael Bradley / AFPSource:AFP

But NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said it was safer for the All Blacks to “stay put”.

“Without complete certainty on the team’s next movements around the Rugby Championship we felt it was prudent for the team to stay put in New Zealand until SANZAAR have announced the full tournament schedule,” Robinson said.

“Once the team leaves our shores, they currently can’t return until November 23 post their northern tour, so given the uncertainty, it makes sense to pause and get more clarity on these fixtures.

“We remain 100 per cent committed to playing in the entire Fortinet Rugby Championship in 2021 and are working closely with SANZAAR to look at a range of options to reschedule these important matches.”

The All Blacks, South Africa and Argentina were all supposed to travel to Australia for the Rugby Championship, but those plans remain up in the air.

The entire tournament could be moved to Queensland, but South Africa and Europe have emerged as back-up options.

Covid-19 outbreaks on both sides of the Tasman have sent the Rugby Championship scheduling into chaos, and SANZAAR and Rugby Australia have been scrambling to save the tournament this week.

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