Australia will host the Rugby Championship, with this year’s tournament to include New Zealand and Argentina but with World Cup winners South Africa still not confirmed.
Twelve matches will be played over six weeks from November 7 to December 12 in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, the joint organisation South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby (SANZAAR) said in a statement.
Chief executive Andy Marinos said SANZAAR had been “meticulous” in assessing New Zealand and Australia’s bids to host the event, but said the latter’s was “the most desirable and workable in terms of tournament logistics.”
“SANZAAR ultimately determined that based on government-required quarantine protocols [for entry and training prior to the tournament] and commercial underwriting, the Rugby Australia submission was the most desirable and workable in terms of tournament logistics for the essential pre-tournament preparation period and the six-week tournament itself,” Marinos added.
Marinos acknowledged that South Africa had not confirmed its participation, which he said was dependent on factors outside SANZAAR’s control, including the suspension of international sporting competition in the country.
It’s official: The Rugby Championships will be played in Australia in November. Primarily in NSW but Brisbane will stage a double-header, with the world champion Springboks likely to play the Pumas on same day as a Bledisloe Cup Test, Australia v All Blacks. Huge boost for RA.
— Wayne Keith Smith (@WayneKeithSmith) September 11, 2020
He said: “The Springboks’ participation will be dependent on the relaxation of that suspension as well as overcoming a number of other logistical challenges including the opening of international air borders.
“South Africa is only expected to return to competitive play next month, leaving a relatively short time to prepare.”
New Zealand were initially favourites to host the competition due to their lower Covid numbers but their trans-Tasman neighbour’s more lenient lockdown rules means that Australia is now the main base for The Rugby Championship.
All Blacks supporters will still see their team on home turf, however, after the NZR confirmed that two Bledisloe Cup encounters would take place prior to the main tournament.
“Those two matches will be massive for our fans and the All Blacks. We know that the Bledisloe Cup is the pinnacle of trans-Tasman rivalry and there will be huge anticipation ahead of those matches,” CEO Mark Robinson said.