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Leaked Minutes Add To New Zealand-Australia Rugby Row

Leaked Minutes Add To New Zealand-Australia Rugby Row

New Zealand Rugby is disputing a leaked document which appears to show it had advance knowledge of the Rugby Championship schedule that has become the latest flash point in a fraught relationship with neighbor Australia.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealand Rugby is disputing a leaked document which appears to show it had advance knowledge of the Rugby Championship schedule that has become the latest flash point in a fraught relationship with neighbor Australia.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan has said the relationship with New Zealand is at its lowest ebb after a recent series of disagreements, including New Zealands plan to establish an eight-team trans-Tasman Super Rugby tournament which would include only two Australian teams.

The relationship suffered further damage when Australia and southern hemisphere governing body SANZAAR released a schedule for the Rugby Championship in Australia which would see the All Blacks playing their last match against the Wallabies on Dec. 12.

That would mean All Blacks players, who would have to spend 14 days in managed isolation on their return to New Zealand, would still be in quarantine on Christmas Day.

New Zealand Rugby has repeatedly said it believed it had an agreement with Australia and SANZAAR that the All Blacks would play six tests over five weeks, with their last match on Dec. 5. But the minutes of a SANZAAR chief executives meeting, obtained by news organizations in Australia and New Zealand, appear to show New Zealand agreed to the six-week schedule and a Dec. 12 final match.

New Zealand also appeared to agree to the release of the schedule on Sept. 24, after which it claimed to have been blindsided by the release and Dec. 12 date.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson insisted in media interviews that his organization had not signed off on the schedule as released.

We didnt agree to the schedule and dont agree to the schedule. Or the announcement, Robinson said. Ordinarily, under SANZAAR joint venture that means things arent decided or announced until there is unanimous support for anything such as this.

All I would say is that in any forum we have been in, there has been no agreement to play in the tournament on Dec. 12 at any time and at any meeting. We have been very clear around that and any correspondence on our end. Thats something we have been very consistent with.

Robinson said Rugby Australia had changed their tune over the schedule in the days before it was released.

It became clear to us probably in the few days before the announcement that the Australians had certainly changed their tune, he said. And in a day or so before or the night before, thats when it gained real traction. We were surprised by the media releases that were circulating.

Robinson also objected to McLennans claim the relationship between Australia and New Zealand is at its lowest ebb.

With regards to Australia, (NZR chairman) Brent (Impey) and I were on a phone call with Hamish and (RA chief executive) Rob (Clarke) as recently as 10 or 12 days ago where they were inviting us to be hosted and to come and stay with them and enjoy hospitality, he said. I think its a bit of bluster, to be honest.

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