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Ian Foster unhappy with expected Rugby Championship changes

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

The All Blacks are staring down the barrel of playing just a small handful of games at home for a second year in a row and coach Ian Foster is not happy.


In 2020, the All Blacks hosted the Wallabies twice – in Wellington and Auckland – before heading over to Australia to play out the remainder of their Tri-Nations matches.

A similar scenario is unfolding this season, now that the New Zealand Government have closed the travel corridor with Australia, which will likely see the All Blacks play just one more home match this year before again crossing the ditch.

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The kiwi take on the first test of the Lions v Springboks series | Aotearoa Rugby Pod
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The kiwi take on the first test of the Lions v Springboks series | Aotearoa Rugby Pod

Without the travel corridor in place, all international arrivals to NZ are required to spend two weeks in managed isolation – making it difficult for the likes of Argentina and South Africa to travel over from Australia to play their Rugby Championship matches.

Foster is annoyed that after a year operating under the cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic, there aren’t better solutions for professional sports teams in place.

[It’s] pretty frustrating that a year later we’re dealing with the same problem, that we can’t come up with creative solutions how to get sports teams into this country,” he told media on Thursday.

The original plan for the Championship was for Argentina and South Africa to travel to Australia and complete two weeks of quarantine under the relatively more relaxed rules of the Wallabies’ home nation, which would allow the teams to train together throughout much of the period.


Once the teams had been in Australia for two weeks, they would be allowed to travel to NZ without having to isolate – but that will no longer be possible.

The cancellation of the travel bubble is set to last for eight weeks, which could still see New Zealand’s games with South Africa hosted in NZ under a best case scenario.

The games between the All Blacks and the Pumas, however, will once again take place in Australia.


Aside from having to leave NZ’s shores, the other big concern for Foster is rescheduling the final test between the All Blacks and the Wallabies so that his team aren’t forced to prematurely head to Australia.

Currently, the match is scheduled to be played in Perth in front of a sold-out crowd on August 21. The All Blacks’ subsequent game, however, isn’t due to take place until September 11. Foster, unsurprisingly, doesn’t like the idea of adding unnecessary weeks away from home to his team’s schedule.

“I’m particularly more interested when the third test is, because what I don’t want to do is to go Australia earlier than we need to and have two weeks doing nothing,” he said.

The All Blacks will play their first match with the Wallabies in Auckland next weekend with a date and location for the second test (originally scheduled to be played in Wellington on August 28) to be announced in the coming days.


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