Covid chaos throws doubt over Perth Bledisloe Cup Test

·3-min read
Pictured here, New Zealand playing Australia in the 2021 Bledisloe Cup Test series.
New Zealand's latest Covid outbreak has cast doubt over this month's Bledisloe Cup Test in Perth. Pic: Getty

The premier of Western Australia has cast doubt over this month's Bledisloe Cup Test in Perth, in the wake of a fresh Covid-19 outbreak in New Zealand.

Rugby Australia remains hopeful the third Bledisloe Test will proceed in Perth later this month despite a change in border arrangements with New Zealand.

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The match is scheduled for Optus Stadium on August 28, however doubts surfaced with the All Blacks caught up in New Zealand's snap lockdown on Tuesday.

A fresh Covid outbreak in New Zealand has prompted a three-day nationwide lockdown, with Auckland placed into a seven-day lockdown. 

Following the outbreak the West Australian government changed the border arrangements so all arrivals from New Zealand must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

The Wallabies flew straight to Perth on Sunday following their second Cup defeat in Auckland before the change in quarantine measures.

WA Premier Mark McGowan gave no guarantees the match would go ahead but said the All Blacks could be placed in a quarantine bubble similar to protocols used for as interstate AFL teams.

That means that while isolated in hotels, players are be allowed out to train and to play.

The WA government said it was introducing a "low risk" measure when it comes to New Zealand and couldn't assure the All Blacks players of being given a quarantine exemption like the Wallabies were afforded across the Tasman.

"We are not sure," McGowan said when asked about the situation by reporters on Wednesday.

"Maybe we have to work out some arrangement, or there may be a bubble, or they just have to comply with the rules that exist for everybody else.

"It's a moving situation and we're trying to work out exactly what can be done about that.

Pictured here, All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock holding the Bledisloe Cup after a resounding second straight win at Eden Park.
The All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup after a resounding second straight win at Eden Park. Pic: Getty

The premier also failed to rule out cancelling the Perth Test if the situation required it.

"That would be very disappointing for rugby fans if we're forced to cancel the game but that's the nature of the world we're in."

Rugby Championship plans also affected

Plans for the four-team Rugby Championship, also including world champions South Africa and Argentina, being played solely in Perth - look to have been knocked on the head.

Scheduled to depart Auckland for Perth on Sunday, the All Blacks are on personal leave with New Zealand Rugby saying they are in ongoing discussions with SANZAAR and RA.

"We will be guided by government travel guidelines and any potential border restrictions in Australia while working closely with SANZAAR and Rugby Australia in coming days to understand what the impact is on our plans," said NZR chief executive Mark Robinson.

RA may look at pushing back the All Blacks' arrival date until the end of the seven-day lockdown in Auckland in the hope the clean travel bubble between the cities is re-established.

The Rugby Championship matches involving the Wallabies are slated for September at the SCG, Suncorp Stadium, Newcastle and a clash with Argentina in Canberra on October 2.

Given the COVID-19 outbreaks in NSW and ACT, SANZAAR was considering hosting all four teams and matches in Perth, with double-headers over four consecutive weekends.

McGowan said such a scenario was now "unlikely".

"It's not our number one priority," the premier said.

Rugby Australia will now look at shifting the Rugby Championship to Queensland, with games split between Brisbane, the Gold Coast and possibly Townsville.

with AAP

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