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Forsyth Barr Stadium has lost a test and the economy has missed out on many millions as the reality of no Rugby Championship being played in New Zealand hits home.
There was no hiding the disappointment for those in the South involved in a bid for New Zealand to host the Rugby Championship.
Sanzaar announced yesterday the four-team championship would take place in Australia from November 7 to December 12.
Health protocols have scuttled the New Zealand bid to host the championships.
NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said yesterday teams could arrive in Australia and straight away train as a whole team in a bubble.
In New Zealand, the players would only be able to train five to seven days after isolation and then only in a group of 15. From days eight to 14 in isolation, the bubble could be increased to 25.
"When you look at it between the two countries, in Australia the teams land, and from day one they’re in a separate bubble training in an unrestricted environment and able to do the full training they need to prepare for test matches," Robinson said.
Squad sizes were expected to be up to 46 for the Rugby Championship.
Robinson said those were the health protocols, set by the Government, that NZ Rugby was left with. The bubble had been expanded from 15 to 25 late in discussions.
NZ Rugby would host two Bledisloe Cup tests in NZ in October and details were soon to be finalised. The games were expected to be hosted in Auckland and Wellington.
Though NZR would not lose much money with the event shifting from NZ to Australia, it would have a big impact on the wider economy.
"It is going to be a multimillion impact on the economy. On the venues, the bars, the hotels, which are going to miss out," Robinson said.
Robinson said All Black players would have the option to skip the Rugby Championship, as it was nine to 10 weeks away from home and family.
The All Blacks were likely to increase their squad from 35 to 46.
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult, who had championed the use of Queenstown as a quarantine and host destination for the visiting teams,
was "gutted" with the decision.
The proposal in the resort included "pop-up gyms" in hotels for players and a designated rugby ground — to which no-one else would have had access — for teams to train.
"The whole thing was lined up like a little Swiss watch. Unfortunately it's simply money that's caused it to go away," Mr Boult said.
"I'm gutted ... the fact that the tour has gone to Australia is just a real blow for the whole town — not only was it good economically, it was just a feel-good thing to be happening in town as well."
The Southern District Health Board had drawn up detailed plans to manage the teams in Queenstown.
Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive Terry Davies was also unhappy the Rugby Championship would not be played in New Zealand.
"We are incredibly disappointed that Forsyth Barr Stadium hasn’t been allocated an All Blacks test match this side of Christmas. However, in the current environment, we know the landscape is constantly changing," Mr Davies said.
A study after the 2018 test between the All Blacks and France showed Dunedin gained a $10 million boost from hosting the test.
Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson said it was disappointing to not host the Rugby Championship but the country had the capacity to host other international sporting events.
He said it would be risky to allow players to walk off a plane and go straight into training in a full team environment.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a huge amount of work had gone into the bid.
She said the unsuccessful NZ Rugby bid was a result of being caught up in Sanzaar politics.