Dismay in South at Rugby Championship decision

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.



The Stadium usually runs at a loss. The difference now is that Covid-19 has removed much of its use. The government has decided to lock us down and that is why the Stadium is suffering. That is why the ratepayers are suffering.

It was great to see our mayor putting dunedin front and centre trying to do what he could to get this comp in NZ. Did he ever talk with mayor Boult in trying to stitch together some sort of joint SI bid? I suppose it might take a while to hitchhike to qtown for a meeting. What a bloody waste of oxygen!!!!! Totally anonymous while all this was going on. Completely out of his depth ..... it’s like he has stage fright since election night.

Typical Jacinda, using her communication degree to quickly point the blame on someone else so the media and public believe it. I suspect working with Jacinda, Chris Hipkins and Bloomfield would have been a nightmare and SANZA just decided to put NZ in the to hard basket. A good example is have the nation outside of Auckland still in level 2 for weeks on end. Complete ignorance.

The rates in this city maybe high especially for those of us living outside the city limit. However, I don't begrudge portion that goes to the stadium because it is a long term asset. This city has been able to host rugby world cup matches, international stars, super rugby, provincial rugby amongst other items that have been held there, in all weathers. Money well spent by forward thinking people in my book. We are in the midst of a pandemic, but that is it, we are in an extraordinarily dangerous situation not of our making and we have to what is necessary to protect our vulnerable people. This virus proves it can get out of hand incredibly quickly and we only have finite resources to cope with it. So I do not begrudge losing the championship because of what we are doing as a country.

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