With uncertainty plaguing the international rugby calendar due to COVID-19, and no clarity on the Rugby Championship with South Africa and Argentina, RA tossed out the idea of an extra fourth Bledisloe match as a way for both unions to make some extra money.
New Zealand Rugby was on board. Regardless of where the Rugby Championship was going to be held, two games apiece would be played on either side of the Tasman.
Sources with knowledge of negotiations say that on Monday evening, when RA told NZR it was happy to play only the one game in New Zealand, as per the original contractual agreement, panic set in.
She called Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. By the morning, Ardern had changed her tune, saying the Wallabies could train fully after six days in quarantine.
NZR claimed it as a win. They tweeted off their All Blacks account: “See you here next month”.
Ardern had capitulated, despite NZR pleading for weeks with her government to relax restrictions for visiting rugby teams.
Chief executive Mark Robinson was asked on Kiwi rugby program The Breakdown, less than an hour after the news was announced, why the Wallabies’ quarantine restrictions had been relaxed after the governments hardline stance for the Rugby Championship.
“Thats a question for the government,” Robinson said.
Despite Ardern telling RA there was no reason the Wallabies couldnt come now, Australia thought it could squeeze more out of the arrangement.
Back NZR went to Ardern, who pushed her health officials, and came back with a promise that the Wallabies could be all together by day four.
As well as a Sunday kick-off, giving Australia one extra day to prepare, it was as good a result as RA could have hoped for.
Depending on when the Wallabies depart Australia, likely to be Tuesday or Wednesday, it will give them at least two weeks of full training before Rennies first Test in charge.
Toomua said it was a win “considering the alternative” and that it had gone down very well among the playing ranks.
“Theyve found a nice level of balance,” said Toomua, who was named RUPA president on Wednesday. “I think everyone will be happy with that, including the New Zealand public, because they get to see games on home soil, which wouldnt have nice for them if that wasnt the case. Were well aware its the best thing for the game and our leaders are happy with the preparation. Its good to have something to aim for.”
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Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald