New Zealand Rugby Commits To New Professional Competition

New Zealand Rugby Commits To New Professional Competition

New Zealand Rugby Commits To New Professional Competition

There is no determination yet on the tournament's name, size and how teams will be owned and operated.

The 2020 Rugby Championship is now scheduled for August 8 to September 27.

SANZAAR, which governs the southern hemisphere competition, on Thursday indicated playing matches in New Zealand is now the best option to ensure the tournament goes ahead in 2020.

Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos said the four-nation tournament can only be staged in one central location because of worldwide travel restrictions and that discussions with NZ Rugby were "well advanced".

He said: "Having successfully restarted Super Rugby this year in Australia and New Zealand our focus is now on The Rugby Championship (TRC) that is set to be played in one central location".

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had forced rugby organizers "to look at other alternatives and a new direction", Robinson said.

A surge in coronavirus cases this month may have counted against Australia, while New Zealand is presently dealing with just 22 active cases - all involving overseas returnees who are in managed isolation.

"SA Rugby has been kept abreast of the thinking in New Zealand and of the outcomes of the Aratipu Report to address the immediate challenges of travel restrictions that may stretch into 2021".

McLennan however is hopeful of reaching an agreement to secure the future of all Australian franchises.

Outlining the findings of its review called "Aratipu", the Maori word for growth, NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said the board had approved recommendations for the competition. "We've seen in the past that if we let teams in that can't survive, then you've got to keep changing the competition around".

"We're looking to play from early-ish November until early to mid-December, probably across six weeks".

New Zealand Sports Minister Grant Robertson said "discussions are underway" about hosting the Championship.

"As we know, our Pacific nations and Pasifika players in New Zealand have added so much to the rich history of rugby in Oceania and our game here in New Zealand", Robinson stated.

Robinson indicated that a profit-sharing model would be explored for its hosting of the tournament. "We're working to win-win situations but the detail hasn't been worked through".

The pandemic halted this year's Super Rugby season in March, forcing New Zealand and Australia to set up domestic versions of the competition.

RA will want all four of Australia's existing Super Rugby teams included after undergoing bitter internal ructions when the Perth-based Western Force was dropped in 2017.

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