Australia floats idea of Rugby Championship 'bubble' Down Under

Rugby Australia CEO Rob Clarke (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Rugby Australia CEO Rob Clarke (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Matt King
  • Rugby Australia is eager to host this year's Rugby Championship.
  • The governing body's CEO Rob Clarke told reporters they're holding talks with the government about becoming a quarantine hub for the event.
  • It would see the Wallabies, Springboks, All Blacks and Los Pumas all stay in one city for the duration of the event.

Rugby Australia (RA) on Tuesday suggested a condensed Rugby Championship could be played entirely Down Under in a "quarantine bubble", as the sport looks to resume amid coronavirus restrictions.

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The governing body's interim CEO Rob Clarke also said talks were "well advanced" to organise an expanded, four-test Bledisloe Cup series against New Zealand this year.

Clarke said the Rugby Championship plan would require international sides to receive an exemption from Australia's strict border closures and submit to 14 days in isolation before taking part in the competition.

The Rugby Championship - considered the southern hemisphere's equivalent of the Six Nations tournament - is contested by South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, who make up the so-called Sanzaar nations.

"We're working with our Sanzaar partners around what the TRC (The Rugby Championship) looks like and it is condensed," he told reporters.

"That said, everybody is committed to trying to play a full (championship)."

Clarke said the plans for the Bledisloe Cup would involve playing two Tests in Australia and two in New Zealand. The cup has in recent years usually been a three-match series.

"There will be an extended Bledisloe Cup and we're well advanced with our discussions with our New Zealand colleagues on that," he said.

New Zealand and Australia are also planning domestic Super Rugby competitions, kicking off in the coming weeks, to fill the hole left by the postponement of the international tournament.

Both countries have had success in containing the spread of coronavirus, with New Zealand and some Australian regions recording multiple successive days without new cases.

Limited professional sport has resumed in Australia, most notably the National Rugby League which restarted last weekend with no spectators and under strict health protocols.

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