This year’s Bledisloe Cup series will go ahead as planned after New Zealand confirmed Australia will receive special permission to travel for the competition this summer.
News of a recent coronavirus outbreak in Australia led to travel restrictions between the two countries being tightened, putting the opening August 7 fixture between the rival nations in jeopardy.
The pair are poised to meet at Eden Park on Auckland before staging back-to-back Rugby Championship games in Perth and Wellington on August 21 and August 28, respectively.
The latter two Rugby Championship fixtures may yet be subject to change or rescheduling, but players and fans alike will be relieved to learn the August 7 Test will be played on time.
Grant Robertson, New Zealand ’s deputy prime minister and minister for sport and recreation, noted a Test fixture is worth between $17million and $20m for host regions upon announcing the news.
“Test rugby between the All Blacks and the Wallabies is keenly anticipated by New Zealanders, and I welcome the decision to allow the Australian team to travel given the game was less than two weeks away when trans-Tasman travel was suspended,” he said.
The Bledisloe Cup is the prize in one of the most fiercely contested rivalries in rugby union, though the Wallabies haven’t lifted the trophy since 2002.
Kiwi coach Dave Rennie led Australia to a 24-22 win over his birth nation when they last met in Brisbane in November 2020.
The Wallabies will travel to Auckland via a charter flight from their Queensland headquarters on Friday, giving the team a little more than a week to prepare before the first Bledisloe Test.
All players will be required to submit a negative Covid-19 result within 72 hours of travelling, with many parts of Australia expected to go into a new lockdown lasting until the end of August.
New Zealand won a restructured Tri-Nations tournament last year when Argentina took the place of regular participants South Africa after travel restrictions meant they couldn’t feature.
The Springboks are, however, the reigning world champions and won the Rugby Championship when it was last played in 2019.
New Zealand had won six of the previous seven editions of the tournament prior to that and will target a return to its pinnacle—as well as more Bledisloe Cup success—later this summer.
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