Report: All Blacks turn down proposal to play exhibition test against Springboks in Dubai
The All Blacks reportedly turned down the chance to play the Springboks in Dubai in what would have been a warm-up clash before South Africa’s three-test series against the British and Irish Lions.
Earlier this week, World Rugby confirmed the fixtures of its July test schedule, whereby the All Blacks will host Fiji across two tests on July 10 and July 17, while there are plans to play either Samoa or Tonga in Hamilton or Auckland on July 3.
The Springboks, meanwhile, were confirmed to host Georgia across two tests on July 3 and July 10 before the 2019 World Cup champions square off against the Lions in Johannesburg and Cape Town between July 24 and August 7.
However, according to report from the Daily Maverick, SA Rugby was close to coming to an agreement with New Zealand Rugby [NZR] to play a one-off fixture in Dubai to prepare for the Lions tour.
The Daily Maverick reports that NZR seriously considered the offer, but ultimately declined as due to New Zealand’s strict COVID-19 travel restrictions that requires travellers into the country to undergo a 14-day quarantine period in a managed isolation facility.
Had NZR accepted the proposal, the All Blacks would not have been able to fulfil its commitments to play Fiji, which was already on its schedule.
Instead, the Springboks will face Georgia in South Africa for the first time in what will be the two nations’ first meeting since their maiden encounter at the 2003 World Cup in Australia, a match the Springboks won 46-19.
With concerns around the competitiveness of the Georgian side ahead of such a significant series against the Lions, SA Rugby also approached Japan about the possibility of a warm-up test, according to the Daily Maverick.
The Brave Blossoms also declined, though, as the Daily Maverick reports they were not eager to travel back to Japan via South Africa due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Jamie Joseph’s side are also set to face the Lions themselves in an historic one-off clash in Edinburgh on June 26.
With both the All Blacks and Japan unavailable to play the Springboks, and the likes of the Wallabies, Los Pumas, England and France all locked in with their own fixtures, SA Rugby considered Georgia as the best available option.
Georgia, ranked 12th on the World Rugby rankings, were due to tour South Africa during last year’s July test window, but those plans were scuppered due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
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