Australia could 'pinch' Rugby Championship from NZ with 'superior' system - report

Rugby Australia could reportedly "pinch" hosting the entire Rugby Championship this year, with their stronger quarantine conditions cited as one of the main reasons for hope.

Beauden Barrett. Source: Photosport

If the Rugby Championship managed to come together this year amongst the ongoing issues of the global Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand was viewed as the favourite to host the entire tournament with World Rugby even giving their blessings on such a move last month.

SANZAAR also confirmed they were discussing with the New Zealand Government about getting the competition here due to the success of Super Rugby Aotearoa, which featured large crowds.

But since then, Auckland has suffered an outbreak of the virus and New Zealand has risen back to Alert Level 2 restrictions, meaning any sporting events around the country currently can only take place without crowds.

As such, The Sydney Morning Herald reports sources with knowledge of negotiations said Rugby Australia have a "strong chance" to take over hosting the Rugby Championship.

The report says Queensland and NSW have been touted as host venues, with Bledisloe Cup matches likely to place either side of the ditch before the tournament kicks off.

It added Australia's "superior commercial modelling" was another reason New Zealand is no longer the favourite to host the tournament.

Sir John Kirwan's plea to NZ Govt

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The Sport and Recreation Minister said the Government is discussing with SANZAAR what would be needed to make the tournament happen. Source: 1 NEWS

All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan has sent a passionate plea to the Government to do more around All Blacks Tests this year, saying it makes no sense why a tournament can't go ahead here after New Zealand's success with Covid-19 so far.

"What's upset me the most is we've created an amazing environment in New Zealand. Even this last lockdown was only in Auckland," Sir John said on The Breakdown.

"Our Prime Minister said the other day it can happen. I don't know why the tournament is not here. How can Fiji go to London? Why aren't we having this competition in New Zealand with England, with whoever it is?

"We've made all this sacrifice to make it the safest country in the world and what is happening? I heard it's going to be in Brisbane. Like I said, Fiji is going north. What is happening?"

Sir John challenged Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson to find a way to allow sports teams from other nations to come to New Zealand to play our teams, saying Kiwis need to see rewards for the sacrifices they've made so far in creating one of the safest countries in the world.

"Grant Robertson is our Minister of Sport. Come on mate, let's do this. I know you're saying, 'We can't do this for the normal people and this for [professional sport].' I disagree. Sport is an integral part of how we feel good. How good was it for us to watch sport during Covid? Straight out of Covid, all the people turned up. So we need to make exceptions for our sports people by doing the right things.

"I'm sure if you ask New Zealand, put them two weeks in quarantine in their own country, fly them down in a private jet – and I'm not just saying rugby, I'm saying our golfers, [etc.] – let's use New Zealand at the moment to create some real sporting events.

"Yeah, we might have to change a couple of rules, but I'm sure we can look after the country and do that."

The other two elephants in the room

Regardless of who could or would host the Rugby Championship, the logistics behind getting all four teams - especially South Africa and Argentina - remains a nightmare for the host.

New Covid-19 cases are still being reported in the thousands daily in both South Africa and Argentina, meaning neither have played any rugby in months.

When Argentina tried to get their national side together last week, six players tested positive for the virus.

South African franchises were cleared to begin full contact training as players prepare to restart the season, but the union argues the Springboks will need at least six weeks of Currie Cup action before they even think about international rugby.

SANZAAR officials are set to come together later this week to make a decision on the future of the competition this year, with an announcement expected this weekend.