NZ Rugby thanks Rugby Championship organisers for granting All Blacks' Christmas wish

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Mark Robinson, CEO of New Zealand Rugby.
Mark Robinson, CEO of New Zealand Rugby.
Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

The All Blacks will make it home for Christmas after their final Rugby Championship clash against the Wallabies was shifted on Thursday, defusing a festering row.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) was up in arms when the initial schedule of the four-nation southern hemisphere tournament in Australia was released, with their last game set for 12 December.

They claimed it snubbed their push for a 5 December finish so players could complete covid-enforced quarantine requirements and be home for the festive season.

Governing body Sanzaar has relented with the 12 December game now being played in Sydney as the opening fixture on 31 October, making the tournament a seven-week affair rather than six.

"We'd like to thank our colleagues at Sanzaar and Rugby Australia for the time and effort that has gone into finalising a schedule that is workable for all," said NZR chief Mark Robinson.

"It is great news that we now have certainty on the draw and we're really excited about the fantastic rugby to come."

Following the opening game, the revised draw will see five straight weeks of double-headers from 7 November when Argentina face South Africa then the All Blacks take on Australia again, both at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

Argentina are already in Australia and in quarantine, although the fate of South Africa remains uncertain, given their lack of match practice.

While Australia and New Zealand have both completed domestic Super Rugby tournaments, rugby only restarted in South Africa two weekends ago after a six-month suspension due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Opinions there are divided as to whether an inevitably underprepared squad should play - partly to boost the coffers of a national body sorely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sanzaar acknowledged the Springboks' participation "remains to be confirmed", but said there were positive signs with South Africa's domestic Super Rugby Unlocked tournament kicking off on Friday. A final decision is expected in the coming days.

Revised draw for the 2020 Rugby Championship:
Matchday one - Saturday 31 October
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
19:45 (10:45 SA time) - Australia v New Zealand
Matchday two - Saturday 7 November 2020
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
17:00 (08:00 SA time) - Argentina v South Africa
19:45 (10:45 SA time) - Australia v New Zealand
Match day three - Saturday 14 November
Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
17:00 (08:00 SA time) - New Zealand v Argentina
19:45 (10:45 SA time) - South Africa v Australia
Match day four - Saturday 21 November
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
17:00 (08:00 SA time) - New Zealand v South Africa
19:45 (10:45 SA time) - Australia v Argentina
Match day five - Saturday 28 November
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
17:00 (08:00 SA time) - Argentina v Australia
19:45 (10:45 SA time)- South Africa v New Zealand
Match day six - Saturday 5 December
Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
17:00 (08:00 SA time) - Argentina v New Zealand
19:45 (10:45 SA time) - Australia v South Africa
Match day seven - Saturday 12 December
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
19:45 (10:45 SA time) - South Africa v Argentina

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