Dunedin All Blacks, Black Ferns tests postponed

A panoramic view of Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night. Photos: Peter McIntosh
A panoramic view of Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night. Photos: Peter McIntosh
The All Blacks' two tests against Wales and test against Scotland in July have been postponed until further notice, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has confirmed.

The announcement comes after a World Rugby meeting which looked at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic facing the global calendar, with the July tests deemed to be unfeasible due to quarantine restrictions and the lack of time for players to properly prepare.

The All Blacks were due to play Wales in Auckland on July 4 and in Wellington on July 11, followed by a one-off test against Scotland in Dunedin on 18 July. The Black Ferns' test against the USA, part of a double-header in Dunedin, is also affected.

NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said there wasn't much his organisation could do about the postponements.

"With so much uncertainty around international travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision was really taken out of our hands. From a New Zealand point of view, we are taking a pragmatic approach to the international test programme."

World Rugby noted why the tests could not go ahead in a statement this afternoon.

"Extended travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to numerous countries, and concerns over adequate player preparation time, mean that any sort of cross-border international rugby competition cannot be hosted in July.

"Monitoring of the potential impact on the remaining 2020 international windows continues. All decision-making will be entirely contingent on national Government travel, quarantine and health advice and important player welfare and hosting considerations in line with return-to-rugby guidance recently published by World Rugby."

The next tests on the All Blacks' schedule are the Rugby Championship showdowns against South Africa, Argentina and Australia, due to kick off from August 18, but they are in serious doubt.

Faint hope for test rugby's return extends to this year's traditional northern tour in which the All Blacks were expected to make a money-making venture to Tokyo en route to Twickenham, Murrayfield and Cardiff.

The global pandemic will improve, and Boris Johnson has indicated the United Kingdom will start reopening for sport next month, but, realistically, the All Blacks are likely to only play the Wallabies in 2020, a possibility Robinson is monitoring.

"We are working hard to explore any and every opportunity to play All Blacks tests as well as Black Ferns tests this year and watching with keen interest any Government discussions on a possible trans-Tasman bubble with Australia."

Robinson also added that there will be further announcements to come in regards to the Black Ferns and the domestic Farah Palmer Cup competition.

"Women's rugby continues to be at the forefront of all our planning. We still have lots of work to do during these uncertain times, but preparation for Rugby World Cup 2021 remains a priority and the Farah Palmer Cup (FPC) is a key part of that," Robinson added.

"We are working hard with Provincial Unions and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association on the FPC and will have an update on that in due course."

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