Just a day before they were supposed to travel, the All Blacks have decided to stay in New Zealand and Australian officials aren’t happy.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie says he’s “bloody angry” after the All Blacks blindsided Australian rugby officials with a last minute decision not to travel to Australia for the third Bledisloe Cup match.
Just days before the side had been due to fly out, New Zealand Rugby confirmed the Kiwis would stay home amid ongoing Covid uncertainty in both countries, forcing the match in Perth to be cancelled and throwing the entire Rugby Championship schedule in to chaos.
Rennie, who is in Perth with his players already, lashed the Kiwi officials for their disrespect and declared only one country was “doing what’s best for the game”.
In a big swipe at the Wallabies’ long-time rivals, Rennie said the All Blacks had taken a selfish approach and that “it’s all about them”.
“I think it’s disappointing how it has been communicated. Our boys all found out through social media,” Rennie said on Friday.
“I thought New Zealand Rugby didn’t even have the respect to consult RA about their decision so that’s hugely disappointing.
“I just feel there is only one of us who are interested in doing what’s best for the game. It tells you more about them than us, I would say.
“It’s all about them, without any concept of what it’s doing over here.”
The news came as a shock to Rugby Australia who labelled it a “unilateral” decision made by NZR despite positive discussions and without any warning.
RA boss Andy Marinos said they only found out via the media.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to be informed of this decision via the media, despite having a conversation with the CEO moments before and there no mention that this was the intention,” Marinos said.
“Despite this outcome, I am confident we will find a solution for the whole Rugby Championship in what continues to be a very challenging environment in which to work.
“We have been engaging in positive discussions with both teams as well as Government partners and were confident we were close to finding a solution.
“Australia has proven its ability to host International Rugby in the current climate, and it is something we will continue to work towards.”
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 / 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.