All Blacks cancel matches against Australia, South Africa due to Covid-19 travel restrictions

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New Zealand is currently under lockdown restrictions until at least 11:59 p.m. local Tuesday after discovering an outbreak of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus in the country. Authorities have since discovered 30 other active cases, including 11 locally transmitted infections which were announced on Friday.
The team were due to face the Wallabies – the Australian men’s rugby team – this Saturday in Perth, Australia, for the third test match of the Bledisloe Cup – a series between the two nations – and the second domestic match of the Rugby Championship, a series of tests contested between New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
However, “given the current uncertainty over the rugby championship schedule,” according to a statement from New Zealand Rugby (NZR), the team will not travel.

NZR CEO Mark Robinson said the decision was made due to the inability to secure the team’s return home.

Ardie Savea of ​​the All Blacks is tackled during the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies.
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“Once the team leaves our shores, they currently cannot return until November 23 after their tour of the North, so given the uncertainty it makes sense to pause and get more clarity on these. meetings, “he said in a statement.

“We remain 100% committed to playing in the entire Fortinet Rugby Championship in 2021 and are working closely with SANZAAR to examine a range of options for rescheduling these important matches.”

In addition, the All Blacks were scheduled to play South Africa at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday 25 September and at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday 2 October.

New Zealand’s women’s rugby team, the Black Ferns, were due to face the Wallaroos – Australia’s women’s rugby team – in Christchurch on Sunday, September 26 and at Eden Park in a double match with the All Blacks .

But after government advice that the 2019 World Cup winners and the Wallaroos could not enter New Zealand to play the matches “due to COVID-19 travel restrictions,” the matches were canceled.

Robinson said every effort has been made to keep testing in New Zealand.

“We share the disappointment of our fans, players and other stakeholders, especially those in Dunedin where the 100th sold-out test between the All Blacks and South Africa was shaping up to be a very special occasion,” he said. -he declares.

“However, after discussions with the government, it is clear that the travel restrictions of Covid-19 meant there was no way to get the South African teams and Wallaroos to New Zealand and we understand the importance of putting the health and safety of New Zealanders first. “

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Official match balls are seen ahead of the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup match between the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos criticized the lack of communication from his New Zealand counterparts, saying he was “angry”.

“I think the way it was communicated is disappointing. Our boys all found out through social media,” he told reporters.

“I thought New Zealand rugby didn’t even have the respect to consult with RA about their decision, so it’s hugely disappointing.”

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