NZ Herald

England rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio has blasted the All Blacks, Wallabies and Springboks, questioning their refusal to play tests in the northern hemisphere.

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All three Southern superpowers were set for their respective end of year tours up north this New Zealand summer, before the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the international calendar.

The All Blacks were scheduled to play England, Wales and Scotland starting in November. No revised fixtures have been set to compensate.

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For the northern countries, they will instead compete in the new Eight Nations tournament starting on November 14, which features all Six Nations sides as well as Fiji and Japan.

Dallaglio, a 2003 Rugby World Cup winner, references the Pakistan and West Indies cricket sides, who traveled to England within the last month and a half to compete in test series’ amid the global pandemic, as an example of how it could work.

Dallaglio told The Times Ruck Podcast they “have shown clearly you can come over to this country, you can self-isolate, put yourself in a bubble and you can play a test match series”.

“You can then self-isolate again before travelling home.

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“It’s interesting, isn’t it? Everyone talks about the southern hemisphere sides not being able to travel and not wanting to travel – it’s definitely the latter.

“Clearly New Zealand, South Africa and Australia don’t want to come here.”

The 47-year-old is aware of the strong rivalry between England and New Zealand. He played in seven matches against the All Blacks, scoring one try. One of those games came in 2003 in Wellington – the last time England won on Kiwi soil.

“I’ve not been made party to the conversations, but there’s no reason why the All Blacks couldn’t come here stay in a hotel to self-isolate and play five and six test matches across the autumn.”

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Instead of intentional encounters, New Zealand has enjoyed a stellar Super Rugby Aotearoa competition since the initial national lockdown, with a North Island versus South Island clash scheduled for the end of this month.

However, the latest strand of community transmission confirmed in South Auckland has left all future fixtures in limbo. That makes it extra difficult to plan any sort of international test or series, wherever it may be.

Dallaglio can understand apprehension attached to travel.

“Understandably so, there’s a little bit of self-interest going on at the moment. New Zealand are protecting what they have and looking at their recent matches you can understand why,” Dallaglio said.

“Australian rugby are just trying to get themselves sorted out in every single way, there’s lots going on there.”

New Zealand Rugby’s hopes of competing in a Bledisloe Cup series remain a possibility.

On Monday interim Rugby Australia CEO Rob Clarke was optimistic a series can go ahead, citing positive talks between the two governing bodies.

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

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