WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is no longer “actively” working on the proposed hybrid match between the All Blacks and the rugby league world champion Kangaroos while they await a response from Australia, chief executive Mark Robinson said on Thursday.
The governing body, desperate for revenue after the disruption of the coronavirus shutdown, last month expressed interest in a showdown between the dominant test sides in the two rugby codes.
It was less warmly welcomed by Australian media and the National Rugby League (NRL) was lambasted in some quarters for offering a leg-up to a rival football code.
“We’re not actively working on this, the ball is firmly with the NRL at the moment,” Robinson told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.
“They may have got cold feet but that’s okay with us as we’ve got plenty going on as it is.”
In April, NZR commissioned a review over the future of rugby in the country and a leaked draft of the report has triggered a torrent of speculation about the future of Super Rugby and the SANZAAR body that runs it.
Robinson gave short shrift to reports the NZR board was split over the details of plans for a trans-Tasman Sea Super Rugby competition to replace the existing five-nation competition.
“The report doesn’t land with the board until next week ... to say there’s division over something that hasn’t been discussed yet is ... nonsense,” he said.
Robinson said NZR remained firmly committed to SANZAAR, a partnership between the New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina unions which also runs the annual Rugby Championship test tournament.
SANZAAR was mulling several options to get the Rugby Championship played this year, he said, including staging it in a central hub in Australia or New Zealand.
“We’re open to hosting but it’s important to stress it’s very early days yet and of course any decision will hinge on our governments,” he said.
“There’s a huge amount of water to go under the bridge before we can make a decision but we are committed to playing the tournament at some stage this year if it’s possible.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford