NZ Rugby focuses on Bledisloe Cup, as Rugby Championship hopes fade

Hopes of holding the Rugby Championship at all, let alone in New Zealand, are fading, with time fast running out to bring the four sides together for the tournament.

Newshub understands contingency planning is already at an advanced level, with NZ Rugby preparing for All Blacks tests to be limited to Bledisloe Cup matches.

Friday is 'D-Day' for a Government call on whether the Rugby Championship - contested by the All Blacks, Australia, South Africa and Argentina - could be held in New Zealand, although sources tell Newshub that those chances appear over.

Newshub understands NZR is instead preparing for the All Blacks to play four Bledisloe Cup tests only this year.

Starting mid-October, two of those would be in Australia - likely in Brisbane or the Gold Coast - before two return tests in New Zealand.

South Africa may also joining the All Blacks and Wallabies in Australia for test matches, although Newshub understands those chances are slim.

Game-time for the Springboks and Argentina has been virtually non-existent since COVID-19 halted Super Rugby, and the South African Rugby Union have set four Currie Cup matches as the bottom line for Springboks players to be ready for international rugby.

The South African provincial competition won't kick off until October 3, so the time frame to complete those matches, as well as two weeks' quarantine on arrival before training, isn't conceivable for the targeted November 7 kick-off.

A one-off test match for the All Blacks against a 'Moana Pacific' side remains on the table and could be the first test under Ian Foster's reign.

On Sunday, Foster will name his first All Blacks squad in Wellington, after the North v South match.

Join us for live updates of North v South from 7pm Saturday