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Australia wants to host Rugby Championship in quarantine ‘bubble’

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia is discussing with its Sanzaar partners and the Australian government plans for a Covid-19-free “hub” to host the four-nation Rugby Championship.

Rugby Australia’s interim chief executive, Rob Clarke, said the organisation is in talks about allowing New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina’s teams to enter the country and be based in a “quarantine hub”.

“We’re exploring with the Australian government whether there can be a bubble here in Australia and we fly in all of the Sanzaar partners and they are in a training bubble, then we can quarantine effectively and play a competition,” Clarke said.

The tournament was scheduled to begin in August, but RA’s plan would see it start in September.

RA is also seeking to firm up a four-Test Bledisloe Cup series with the All Blacks later this year. “There will be an extended Bledisloe Cup and we’re well advanced with our discussions with our New Zealand colleagues on that,” said Clarke.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are currently working on a trans-Tasman safe travel zone to ease travel restrictions between the countries.

New Zealand Rugby is trialling rule changes when its domestic Super Rugby Aotearoa rugby union competition starts on June 13, Reuters reports. Players who receive a red card can be replaced 20 minutes after they are sent off, and will not be allowed to return to the field. And if a match is drawn after regular time, the first team to score by a drop goal, penalty kick or try during a 10-minute extra time period will be awarded the win.

The changes will be trialled during the 10-week event which will kick off with a game between Otago Highlanders and Waikato Chiefs in Dunedin. Super Rugby Aotearoa is a replacement for the five country Super Rugby series which has been cancelled this year due to Covid-19.