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Rugby News

Rugby-NZ deny agreeing to late finish of Rugby Championship

WELLINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - New Zealand Rugby doubled down on Thursday on their insistence they had not agreed to the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship extending into six weeks and leaving the All Blacks stuck in quarantine over the Christmas break.

NZR have been at loggerheads for a week with Rugby Australia, South African Rugby and southern hemisphere’s governing body SANZAAR over the Dec. 12 finish for the Rugby Championship that will be held in Australia.

Both RA and SANZAAR have said consistently that NZR were aware the competition would be played over six weeks and had agreed to it ending on Dec. 12.

NZR, however, said they had asked for a Dec. 5 finish to ensure their players would be released from a 14-day quarantine upon their return to New Zealand in time for Christmas and chairman Brent Impey repeated that on Thursday.

“New Zealand never agreed to a Dec. 12 match in Australia,” Impey told reporters on a video call. “That is my honest view.”

New Zealand’s Newshub and Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday that minutes they had seen from a Sept. 17 meeting showed that NZR was aware the tournament would not finish until Dec. 12.

The fixtures were made public on Sept. 24.

Impey said the Sept. 17 meeting was not a board meeting but a conference call between chief executives. No minutes were taken but notes could have been made.

“The notes have a fundamental error in them as far as we’re concerned in that they said the six week draw was agreed by all when it wasn’t,” he said.

“The notes also quite clearly refer to an impasse and there are many emails that prove this ... our position has never changed.”

Impey said NZR chief executive Mark Robinson was working “daily” on trying to find a solution.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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