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SANZAAR boss confident Rugby Championship will run in 2020 despite pandemic

The head of southern hemisphere body SANZAAR is confident the Rugby Championship will be played this year despite borders remaining locked amid the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

All Blacks players celebrate as New Zealand's Ardie Savea scores a try in the last minute of the match during the Rugby Championship 2018 match between South Africa and New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Source: Photosport

Andy Marinos told New Zealand website Stuff he remains “very positive” the four-nation test tournament will possibly start in October and finish in December.

SANZAAR is considering a model which would see New Zealand or Australia hosting all of the matches in an eight-week tournament involving the All Blacks, Wallabies, South Africa’s Springboks and Argentina’s Pumas.

“The biggest elephant or anomaly in the room is what sort of restrictions that could come in,” Marinos said. “So we always have to be guided by governments and health authorities around that.

“But we are certainly very positive as a group to deliver a Rugby Championship this year in whichever market we can, where we can get all the teams in and get the competition underway.”

New Zealand and Australia are already scheduled to meet in four Bledisloe Cup tests from Oct. 10 to Nov. 8, which could become part of a wider Rugby Championship. But border restrictions make a Rugby Championship unlikely.

New Zealand's and Australia’s borders currently are only open, with a few exceptions, to returning citizens who have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival. Both countries have restarted domestic rugby, but South Africa and Argentina remain shut down.

The New Zealand and Australian governments are considering a trans-Tasman bubble which would allow quarantine-free travel between the countries. But a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria state has complicated moves towards such an agreement.