NZ Herald

An Anzac invitation side has been proposed by Rugby Australia as they plan their test schedule for the rest of the year with Covid-19 having a massive impact on international rugby.

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Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke told the Daily Telegraph they have been in talks with their New Zealand counterparts about a possible four-test series between the two nations as well as an Anzac clash against the Wallabies.

The All Blacks and Wallabies were set to meet three times in 2020 but with the Rugby Championship looking doubtful, and New Zealand and Australia set to create a trans-Tasman travel bubble post-COVID restrictions, plans are in place for four Bledisloe Cup tests – two hosted by each country.

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A trio of big-name Reds players have terminated their contracts with Rugby Australia following a salary stand-off.

An added Bledisloe Cup test might not excite fans, as New Zealand and Australia clash so often, but the chance of players from both countries combining to form an Anzac team is a new idea in the professional era.

“We are in deep discussions with our Kiwi friends and they have the same challenges and are looking for content and so I am hopeful we can get to four, and possibly some trials games around that as well,” Clarke told the Telegraph.

“If we can’t get a full TRC (Rugby Championship) because of the travel restrictions then we are looking at other things that we could do, a Wallabies versus Anzac invitation team. Something to be creative.”

An Anzac XV side was previously formed to face the British Lions in 1989 with New Zealand trio Kieran Crowley, Frano Botica and Steve McDowall starting alongside 12 Australians in the final match of the tour. The Lions won the match 19-15 after a 2-1 series win over the Wallabies.

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In 2012, Australian Rugby Union boss John O’Neill touted the idea of an Anzac XV side facing the Lions for the 2017 tour of New Zealand to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign in World War One, however it was considered impractical in an already packed schedule for the tourists.

New Zealand Rugby are also looking at creative ways to boost the top-level rugby season which re-starts next month with Super Rugby Aotearoa. NZR have already postponed the July tests against Wales and Scotland.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson confirmed earlier this month they were looking at reviving the North versus South fixture, potentially in a State of Origin style format that could double as an All Blacks trial.

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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