NZ poised to host whole Rugby Championship

Sanzaar wants New Zealand to be lone host of this year's four-nation Rugby Championship, a concept the New Zealand government is open to.

Trans-Tasman rugby relations face another examination after Rugby Australia confirmed it wants to stage two Bledisloe Cup Tests in October before New Zealand host the entire Rugby Championship.

The international schedule in the southern hemisphere took shape on Thursday after governing body Sanzaar announced it wants New Zealand as sole host of the four-nation Rugby Championship because of its success in containing the COVID-19 virus.

The event must meet New Zealand government health stipulations and minister of sport Grant Robertson said every avenue would be looked at to make the tournament go ahead.

If Rugby Australia gets its way, the four-nation tournament will be preceded by two Bledisloe Cup Tests on Wallabies soil before the trans-Tasman rivals are forced to undergo two weeks' quarantine in New Zealand.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said he envisaged a six-week Rugby Championship, also involving the Springboks and Pumas, running from early November to mid-December.

Playing the early Bledisloe Tests in Australia, rather than New Zealand, will take some planning, he said.

"We're going to have to try to understand, if we do play in Australia, what that means in terms of getting back to NZ with quarantine and then go into Rugby Championship," Robinson said.

"If that happens, what is the timing of all that? And if it can be done. They are still things that it's very early days with."

The introduction of a trans-Tasman travel bubble would make the process considerably more simple.

Robinson said a Rugby Championship schedule was still to be formalised, with that process to begin only once government approval is given.

The timing of the tournament would effectively end any prospect of inter-hemisphere Tests between leading nations in 2020.

There are concerns players in South Africa and Argentina would be under-done because of a lack of domestic rugby due to pandemic conditions in their respective countries.

Robinson said there may be a contingency for those players to arrive early in New Zealand to play warm-up matches.

New Zealand is presently dealing with just 22 active cases - all involving overseas returnees who are in managed isolation.

Full crowds have been allowed to watch Super Rugby Aotearoa matches. The Kiwi-only competition has run for a month without a hitch.

Sanzaar's announcement comes amid the backdrop of trans-Tasman debate over the future makeup of Super Rugby, with NZ Rugby said to favour a structure that features a reduced number of Australian teams from 2021.