Rugby Championship trophy (Getty Images)
New Zealand health minister Chris Hipkins has admitted the country still has “a lot to work through” if it is to host the Rugby Championship later this year.
At a news conference on Thursday, Hipkins revealed that New Zealand Rugby had not yet managed to satisfy the government that the tournament could go ahead safely, with none of the options provided to New Zealand’s director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, being accepted.
“[Teams] need to be able to keep training through their isolation period and so what sort of bubble arrangements you would put around that is one of the details which are currently being worked through,” he said.
“There’s a good degree of goodwill but there’s a lot to work through.”
New Zealand has been earmarked as a potential host venue for the international tournament involving the All Blacks, Australia, Argentina and the Springboks due to getting an early grip on the coronavirus and successfully containing the spread of the disease within its borders.
But a new outbreak in its largest city, Auckland, has complicated matters, and strict border protocols remain very much in place, creating a number of potential logistical problems for international teams who would need to quarantine upon their arrival and find secure locations to practice.
Media reports in New Zealand now suggest that SANZAAR favours Australia as a potential tournament host instead due to its less stringent border and quarantine restrictions.
The southern hemisphere rugby governing body is expected to decide in a conference call late on Thursday or Friday whether the tournament can go ahead, and if so, where it will be hosted.
– TEAMtalk media