WELLINGTON, Sept 24 (Reuters) - New Zealand Rugby (NZR) say they remain firmly committed to the SANZAAR alliance despite their requests for an earlier finish to the Rugby Championship in Australia being rebuffed.
SANZAAR, a partnership between the South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina unions, released the schedule of matches for the championship on Thursday, with the last round of games to be played on Dec. 12.
NZR had been pushing for their final game to be played by Dec. 5 to ensure the All Blacks would be out of quarantine in New Zealand in time for the Christmas break.
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson told reporters on a conference call that while they remained committed to the rest of the schedule they had not agreed to the Dec. 12 fixture against the Wallabies and would “work to find a solution”.
He said there had been no discussions about boycotting the fixture and rejected suggestions the SANZAAR relationship was in jeopardy.
“These things happen in partnerships,” Robinson said. “You work through them.
“We have got a very firm commitment to SANZAAR and we know that the future of it could look different but that does not diminish our commitment to SANZAAR at all.”
NZR have been at loggerheads with their SANZAAR partners, especially Rugby Australia (RA), in recent months over the future of Super Rugby.
Their preferred model of a trans-Tasman competition with no South African teams and a limited number of Australian sides was lambasted by RA over what they saw as NZR’s ‘master-servant’ mentality.
South Africa Rugby described the model as tantamount to New Zealand walking away from the SANZAAR partnership but Robinson said NZR was still keen to work together with the other unions.
“There is a huge commitment to working through SANZAAR going forward,” he said.
“We have admitted that it could look different in the future but notwithstanding that there is still appetite for the countries to remain and ... work together.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford
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