All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup tests up in the air after government pauses travel bubble
23 July, 2021, 2:18 pm
The All Blacks’ season has been plunged into turmoil after the government paused the quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia for eight weeks.
Ian Foster’s All Blacks are due to play three Bledisloe tests against Australia, at Eden Park on August 7, in Perth on August 21, and at Sky Stadium, Wellington, on August 28.
The chances of those tests going ahead as planned are now dead in the water, as the virulent Delta strain of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread in NSW and Victoria, while Queensland also recorded one local case on Friday.
However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed there was an avenue the Wallabies might be able to utilise to travel to New Zealand.
Courtesy of an economic impact exemption, they could travel to New Zealand within the seven-day window returning Kiwis can utilise, potentially remaining in the country for an extended Rugby Championship stint, which could result in the All Blacks hosting all three Bledisloe tests.
“If there are significant economic issues that are brought up by the closure in that seven-day window that can be resolved, then we have a delegated minister to work through any of those issues,” Ardern said.
“However, it must be in the seven-day window, we are not making exceptions outside of that. Everyone else has to go into quarantine.”
The bubble will pause from 11.59pm on Friday night, but there will be managed return flights over the next seven days to allow Kiwi citizens and residents to come home.
Those outside of Victoria and New South Wales will be able to get on these flights and not go through managed isolation – but everyone will need a negative pre-departure test.
Those in New South Wales will need to go through managed isolation, while those in Victoria will be able to self-isolate at home, with similar testing requirements to those in managed isolation.
It’s understood the bulk of the Wallabies squad remained in Queensland after their victory against France at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane last weekend.
Asked to clarify if it was possible the Wallabies could travel to New Zealand, Ardern said there was “issues to work through there.”