Australia chosen to host Rugby Championship

Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos says the wheels are in motion to hold the Rugby Championship in Australia in November and early December
PLANS IN PLACE: Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos says the wheels are in motion to hold the Rugby Championship in Australia in November and early December
Image: GETTY IMAGES

Australia will host the southern hemisphere’s four-nation Rugby Championship from November 7 to December 12 in a coup for the country’s battered domestic game as it struggles to recover from the impact of Covid-19.

Australia, New Zealand, SA and Argentina would participate in a six-week, 12-match tournament, governing body Sanzaar said in a statement on Friday.

However, SA’s participation needed to be confirmed “as it was dependent on several factors outside the control of Sanzaar”, it added.

The matches will be played primarily in New South Wales, with a round in Queensland.

“Traditionally it is played as an international, cross-border series of home and away matches between Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and SA, but due to the pandemic this is obviously not possible this year,” Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos said.

“We have, therefore, worked very hard as a group to ensure it takes place this year, albeit in one country, and Sanzaar was meticulous in assessing the two options for hosting presented to it by New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia.”

The tournament was moved from its traditional August-September window due to the coronavirus outbreak, with Sanzaar later tentatively nominating New Zealand as sole host.

However, a recent outbreak of Covid-19 in Auckland placed New Zealand’s hopes of hosting in some doubt.

“We’re obviously disappointed at the decision to not have New Zealand host the tournament, but we understand and accept it,” New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said.

New Zealand will instead host two non-Rugby Championship matches against Australia in October as part of the annual Bledisloe Cup series contested between the trans-Tasman Sea neighbours.

Rugby Australia, which has suffered a big financial hit and a slew of redundancies at head office due to Covid-19, welcomed Sanzaar’s decision.

“We will now knuckle down to make these plans a reality,” RA interim CEO Rob Clarke said.

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