SANZAAR has announced that Queensland will host the 2021 eToro Rugby Championship, with four blockbuster double-headers set to thrill fans across the state.
The Wallabies and All Blacks will square off against world champions, South Africa, as well as Argentina’s ‘Los Pumas’ across four straight weeks between Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.
Rugby Australia will confirm the rescheduled Bledisloe Cup fixture at Optus Stadium in Perth in the coming days.
Ticketholders for the previously scheduled matches in Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra will be refunded.
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said: “This is a world Rugby first and a truly special celebration of the game, in what I see as a once-in-a-lifetime event.
"We can't thank Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk enough, as well as Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young and John Lee of the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport and their respective departments for their support in making this tournament possible.
“What a fantastic tournament ahead for fans in Queensland. Four unmissable back-to-back double-headers featuring four of the very best Test nations in World Rugby – all in Queensland’s backyard.
“I also want to acknowledge our partners including Nine, Stan, Cadbury, eToro as well as Rugby Australia’s partners for their support, as we showcase the very best of Queensland and Australia to the rest of the world next month.
“I extend our gratitude to the New South Wales Government and the ACT Government for their understanding in rescheduling the fixtures set for Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra. We hope everyone stays safe and we look forward to bringing world-class Rugby to fans right across the country next year,” Marinos said.
SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris stated, "We thought last year was tough when we had to implement a Tri-Nations tournament in Australia with South Africa absent due to the pandemic, but the current disruption caused by the 'delta variant' of COVID-19 has seen government authorities tighten up border bio-security measures substantially.
"This is understandable and therefore, we had no option but to basically move the remainder of The Rugby Championship to Queensland.
"On behalf of SANZAAR and the national unions, I would like to sincerely thank the Queensland Government for working with us around the clock to provide a travel, accommodation, training and playing environment that will safely allow us to complete the tournament. SANZAAR and the national unions are incredibly grateful and will work closely with the states' health authorities to ensure all bio-security measures are adhered to.
“I would also like the extend my thanks Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young, as well as John Lee of the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport and their respective departments for their tireless efforts in supporting this tournament.
"SANZAAR has its own tournament bio-security protocols in place that have proved very effective in Super Rugby over the last two seasons as well as in last year's Tri-Nations. Player movements related to accommodation, training venues and the match venues are all part of this. The teams will be based at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast during their managed quarantine and will have no contact with hotel workers, contractors and the general public.
"SANZAAR would also like to thank the various tournament commercial partners and broadcaster rights holders for their patience and for their flexibility and understanding in this difficult time. We now look forward to completing the tournament during in this difficult time."
Queensland Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the Palaszczuk Government had worked quickly with SANZAAR to put in place strict quarantine requirements for the 2021 Rugby Championship matches to go ahead in Queensland.
“The four international Rugby doubleheaders to be played in Queensland will take place under non-negotiable Covid-safe conditions for the safety of players and spectators,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“Queensland’s Chief Health Officer has insisted on stringent bio-security measures for the eight matches to be played in front of spectators at Suncorp Stadium, Cbus on the Gold Coast and Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
“Although there’s plenty for Rugby fans in Queensland to be excited about, I want to make it clear the cost of relocating and quarantine for the remainder of the 2021 Rugby Championship is at the expense of SANZAAR.
“While the relocation of the 2021 championship is a bonus for Rugby-loving Queenslanders, we know this tournament will also be a bitter-sweet experience.
“Many Queensland fans continue to be concerned for the welfare of interstate family and friends in tough, ongoing lockdowns because of the pandemic’s Delta strain.”
Every Wallabies Test will be ad-free, live and on demand with extended coverage on Stan Sport and live, free-to-air on the Nine Network.
Tickets will go on sale in the week commencing Monday 30 August for the four double-headers across the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Townsville via Ticketek and Ticketmaster.
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