Hosts Rugby Australia (RU) and organisers SANZAAR have revealed a revised schedule for the 2020 Rugby Championship after bowing to pressure from the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU), with the competition now set to kick off a week earlier.
Australia's clash with New Zealand that was scheduled for 12 December will be played on 31 October after the NZRU objected to the original date as it meant their players would have to spend Christmas in quarantine due to the country’s strict Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The initial fixture list saw the competition start on 7 November.
The row over the scheduling had soured relations between New Zealand and Australia, RU chairperson Hamish McLennan admitted this week.
The teams are scheduled to play two Bledisloe Cup tests before the start of the competition, the first on Sunday followed by another clash on 18 October
All matches involving Argentina and world champions South Africa will remain as scheduled, and the pair will now close out the competition on 12 December at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium. The game was originally scheduled for Sydney.
South African Rugby have still yet to officially confirm their participation though as worries over a lack of preparation time and player welfare persist, with the country’s domestic competition only set to start this weekend.
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"This year has been a year of continued adjustment where the SANZAAR partners have had to compromise on a number of levels," SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos admitted in a statement.
Australia was chosen to host the entire Southern Hemisphere championship this year. Argentina have already arrived in the country to start their preparations this week.
Revised Rugby Championship schedule:
31 October, Sydney
Australia v New Zealand
7 November, Brisbane
Argentina v South Africa
Australia v New Zealand
14 November, Sydney
New Zealand v Argentina
South Africa v Australia
21 November, Sydney
New Zealand v South Africa
Australia v Argentina
28 November, Newcastle
Argentina v Australia
South Africa v New Zealand
5 December, Sydney
Argentina v New Zealand
Australia v South Africa
12 December, Newcastle
South Africa v Argentina