Rugby Championship: Jacinda Arden blames 'SANZAAR politics' if NZ misses out on tournament

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has distanced herself and the Government from New Zealand potentially losing the Rugby Championship, blaming "SANZAAR politics".

SANZAAR is expected to confirm whether New Zealand or Australia will stage this year's four-nation tournament, starting November 7, although the latter now appears more likely. 

Before the latest waves of COVID-19 cases, New Zealand was the favoured host, and even received full backing from World Rugby and SANZAAR, but a late play from Australia now seems to have moved the series across the Tasman. 

Ardern has revealed that the Government was willing to bend quarantine rules and allow teams to train three days after their arrival, while downplaying any blame for New Zealand losing out. 

"As I understand, there hasn't been any official announcement," she says. "However, if that is the outcome, then I would be deeply disappointed.

"We put lots of effort into that bid, worked hard to accommodate the needs of the players and even created a regime where they could be training within three days of arrival. 

"If we are not successful I'd say it would result in getting caught up in SANZAAR politics. 

Rugby Championship: Jacinda Arden blames 'SANZAAR politics' if NZ misses out on tournament

"The arrangements we proposed did include training in quarantine, we worked hard with health and tournament organisers to make it work, meaning they would be able to train within three days.

"From some elements of the bid, we went to considerable effort to work through a regime to make sure we could look after the players, so my view is, if we're not successful, it will be more about the politics of SANZAAR."

Even if New Zealand does miss out on hosting the event, Ardern says the preparation work done can be used for other sports wanting to stage events in New Zealand, which could include the Silver Ferns' Constellation Cup series against Australia or Blackcaps fixtures over the summer. 

"In this process, we have established a robust regime that will allow sporting codes to quarantine and train, so it will serve us well for future opportunities."