Rugby: New Zealand faces second chance at hosting Rugby Championship

Hosting rights for this year's Rugby Championship could again be up for grabs, with SANZAAR revealing that another centralised location for the tournament is highly likely.

With COVID-19 continuing to wreak havoc across the world, the organisation is already working through contingency plans to ensure the competition can proceed.

"We've got a model that works to run a centralised competition," chief executive Brendan Morris tells Newshub.  

"It's just about which country puts their best foot forward to provide the environment that will suit it best."

Last year, that seemed destined to be New Zealand, until an 11th hour u-turn, due to strict quarantine restrictions, saw Australia awarded hosting rights.

But Morris says New Zealand has an opportunity to ensure that doesn't happen again.

"I've got no doubt they'd do a fantastic job running the tournament if it was to end up in New Zealand," says Morris.

"It'd be great to work with [NZ Rugby chief executive] Mark [Robinson] and his team.

The preferred plan remains a cross-border tournament, but that appears increasingly unlikely.

Should a trans-Tasman bubble open, New Zealand and Australia could share the tournament, but that is also far from guaranteed.

"We need to be ready to enact plans B, C and D, if need be," says Morris.

If a centralised Rugby Championship is required, strict criteria will apply.

"We'll be looking at everything from player welfare to the COVID situation, the quarantine needs, the commercial outcomes."

In reponse, an NZR spokesperson has told Newshub it will "continue to work closely with SANZAAR and our SANZAAR partners to ensure informed, responsible and aligned decisions are made around The Rugby Championship".

"The tournament is scheduled for August to October, so we have the time and space to work through what is a complex environment for international sport," they add.

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