Rennie ‘bloody angry’ over AB’s Bledisloe call

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has been left “bloody angry” after the All Blacks pulled out of the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Perth, saying only one country is interested in doing what’s best for the game.

The final match of the series, set for the 28th of August in Perth, was officially called off on Friday afternoon amid growing chaos with the draw for the remainder of the Rugby Championship, which next Saturday’s Test was also a part of.

Citing the uncertainty around the Rugby Championship’s schedule, New Zealand Rugby announced it would not be sending the All Blacks to Perth on Saturday night, where they would have faced a week’s “soft quarantine”.

Rugby Australia said it had been completely caught off guard by the decision, only learning through the media, with Rennie, who had ironically been at a Bledisloe Cup lunch in Perth, later echoing the frustrations of chief executive Andy Marinos and the wider Australian rugby community.

“Bloody angry,” Rennie said when asked about how he felt about NZR’s decision.

“I think it’s disappointing how it’s been communicated, our boys all found out through social media…New Zealand Rugby didn’t even have the respect to consult RA about their decision, so that’s hugely disappointing.”

Rennie said the Wallabies had done everything asked of them to ensure the series went ahead earlier this month, including overlooking the fact that members of his squad had already faced a long stint away from home – which was one of NZR’s major concerns for the All Blacks.

“We made a commitment to play a Test in Auckland on the 7th of August and while we had players who had been away from home for six weeks already out of NSW, we honoured that commitment,” Rennie said.

“They asked us to play an extra game because we couldn’t go back to Wellington on the 28th and we honoured that as well. And they made a commitment to come here on the 21st, which they pushed back to the 28th, which now they’re not coming for. So it’s hugely disappointing; disappointing for obviously the Perth community but really disappointing for our players too because we’re in limbo a little bit now too.

“What we know is that over the next day or so we’ll get clarity on what the Rugby Championship looks like and where it’s going to be held and whether that’s Brisbane or whether that’s South Africa or whether that’s in Europe, the games are able to take place on those dates.

“So the 11th or the 12th of September is the first one; New Zealand could have come here and played the game here knowing that we’ve got a Rugby Championship game a couple of weeks after that. So hugely disappointing.”

The Wallabies flew straight to Perth from New Zealand last Sunday, while the All Blacks had planned to fly this weekend. There were no quarantine restrictions for people flying into Perth from New Zealand at that point, but a COVID-19 breakout in Auckland during the week saw the West Australian Government reinforce protocols that NZR boss Robinson said would have meant the All Blacks would have had to complete “soft quarantine”.

But that is no different than what Australia had to combat for the Bledisloe Cup last year, when they faced two weeks of hotel quarantine in New Zealand with increasing levels of training before the first Test in Wellington.

Reflecting on that effort and his team’s recent sacrifices, Rennie said it was clear who and who wasn’t conducting themselves in the right fashion.

“I just feel there’s only one of us who are interested in doing what’s best for the game,” he said. “Last year we went to New Zealand to ensure that the games were played for the benefit of both countries, we quarantined for two weeks prior to playing a Test in Wellington and the expectation was that we made a commitment to go there this year and they made a commitment to come here and they haven’t honoured that.

“So that tells you more about us than them I’d say.”