Doubt cast over third Bledisloe Cup test after fresh NZ lockdown
The third Bledisloe Cup test has been thrown into doubt after the Western Australian Government introduced new quarantine measures following New Zealand’s snap Covid-19 lockdown.
New Zealand entered a Level 4 lockdown on Tuesday after a community case of the Covid-19 Delta variant was detected.
Auckland and the Coromandel will be in lockdown for at least seven days, while the remainder of the country is in lockdown for at least three days.
As a result, the Western Australian Government has introduced fresh quarantine rules which came into effect on Wednesday and requires New Zealanders travelling to Perth to quarantine for two weeks.
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan told reporters on Wednesday that he is unsure if the All Blacks will be granted an exemption to travel to Perth ahead of next Saturday’s final Bledisloe Cup clash at Optus Stadium.
“Maybe we have to work out some arrangement, or there may be a bubble, or they just have comply with the rules that exist for everybody else,” McGowan said.
“It’s a moving situation and it would be disappointing for rugby fans if we are forced to cancel the game, but that is the nature of the world we live in.”
The Wallabies were granted an exemption by the New Zealand Government to enter the country to play the first two Bledisloe Cup tests in Auckland over the past fortnight despite the nation’s eight-week travel bubble pause with Australia.
The Bledisloe Cup test doubles as a Rugby Championship fixture, and Perth has been mooted as a possible venue to host the entire competition following the trans-Tasman bubble pause in the wake of the recent virus outbreak in Australia.
Western Australia currently has only three active cases of Covid-19, putting the state on par with Northern Territory for the third lowest number of active cases of any Australian state or territory.
By comparison, New South Wales has, as of Tuesday, more than 7,000 active cases, while there are hundreds of active cases in Queensland and Victoria.
However, McGowan poured cold water on the idea of staging other Rugby Championship matches featuring the Springboks and Los Pumas in Perth.
Fresh calls for an upheaval of World Rugby’s eligibility laws have been made following plans for Pacific Island involvement in the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.https://t.co/RMJ3E1rhDn
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“I think it would be unlikely, it’s not our No 1 priority.”
The All Blacks are scheduled to fly to Perth on Sunday, but New Zealand’s new lockdown restrictions leaves New Zealand Rugby [NZR] uncertain as to whether those travel plans will still go ahead.
“We will be guided by government travel guidelines and any potential border restrictions in Australia while working closely with SANZAAR and Rugby Australia in coming days to understand what the impact is on our plans,’’ NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.
Prior to New Zealand’s lockdown announcement, the All Blacks were already facing the prospect of spending up to three-and-a-half months away from home.
New Zealand’s travel bubble pause with Australia means the All Blacks expect to play two tests against Los Pumas, initially scheduled to be held in Wellington and Auckland, in Perth on September 11 and 18.
Those tests will be followed by back-to-back tests against the Springboks, which were scheduled to be played in Dunedin and Auckland on September 25 and October 2 but seem likely to be played in Australia instead.
After that, the All Blacks will embark on their end-of-year tour, where they will play the United States in Washington DC, Wales in Cardiff, Italy in Rome, Ireland in Dublin and France in Paris throughout October and November.
The All Blacks are currently on a break after securing the Bledisloe Cup for the 19th straight year as they dispatched the Wallabies in consecutive tests at Eden Park over the last two weekends.
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