NZ relax COVID rules for Bledisloe matches

The NZ government will ease quarantine to appease Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who said his team would be unable to prepare properly for the Bledisloe Tests.

Australian Rugby Coach DAVE RENNIE poses for photographs during the Rugby Australia Welcome To Country at Rugby Australia HQ in Sydney, Australia.
Australian Rugby Coach DAVE RENNIE poses for photographs during the Rugby Australia Welcome To Country at Rugby Australia HQ in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Mark Evans/Getty Images

The Wallabies and All Blacks will meet in two Bledisloe Cup Sunday showdowns in New Zealand after Jacinda Ardern's government relaxed quarantine restrictions on the Australian team.

The countries jointly announced on Tuesday they had locked in Tests on October 11 in Wellington and then October 18 at Auckland's Eden Park.

The Wallabies will then return home to Australia for the domestic Rugby Championship campaign, also involving South Africa and Argentina, beginning in early November.

Two more Bledisloe Cup Tests will form part of that tournament, which will be played mostly in NSW, with Australia hoping to break the All Blacks' strangle-hold on the trophy which dates back to 2003.

Rugby Australia boss Rob Clarke thanked New Zealand Rugby and their NZ government for their flexibility in the arrangements.

"Thank you to New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand government for the flexibility and support over the last week, to find a mutually agreeable solution," Clarke said in a statement.

"We will now meet with our SANZAAR joint venture partners on Thursday to work on confirming the schedule for the Rugby Championship here in Australia to start in November."

New Wallabies coach Dave Rennie slammed initial plans, saying the proposed strict quarantine conditions were unacceptable for his team to prepare properly, as they were only allowed to train together for five days.

NZ Prime Minister Ardern called her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison this week to help resolve the stand-off.

Under updated NZ government restrictions, the Wallabies will be able to train fully as a squad four days after arriving in the country, dependent on all members returning a negative COVID-19 test on day three.

The Wallabies' travel plans to New Zealand will be confirmed in the coming days with NZ Minister of Sport Grant Robertson saying they are expecting to be based in Christchurch for their pre-Bledisloe Cup quarantine.

"Most likely location will be in Christchurch," Robertson told TVNZ.

"It will be in a dedicated isolation facility, and they will be able to bus to and from their training grounds."

BLEDISLOE CUP 2020

First Test

Australia v New Zealand, 1.30pm AEDT, Sunday 11 October 2020 at Sky Stadium in Wellington

Second Test

Australia v New Zealand, 1.30pm AEDT, Sunday 18 October 2020 at Eden Park in Auckland

Plus two Tests in November in Brisbane and Sydney (dates to be confirmed)