Defiant Sanzaar boss Andy Marinos still believes the Rugby Championship can still go ahead, possibly as early as late October.
Despite Covid-19 forcing the cancellation of the July inbound tests, and the 16-team Super Rugby competition having been ditched, Marinos refuses to accept the Rugby Championship would also be a victim of the pandemic.
While Sydney-based Marinos said he couldn’t put a deadline on when a decision would be made, he remains optimistic the four-nation tournament would be staged in 2020 - probably in New Zealand and Australia.
“We remain very positive about that,’’ Marinos told Stuff. “Obviously the biggest elephant, or anomaly, in the room is what sort of restrictions that could come in. So we always have to be guarded by governments and health authorities around that.
“But we are certainly very positive as a group to deliver a Rugby Championship this year in whichever market we can, where we can get all the teams in and get the competition underway.’’
Sanzaar has been looking at either Australia or New Zealand to stage games and deliver a competition involving the All Blacks, Wallabies, Springboks and Pumas.
“At this stage we are looking at the back-end of October, into November and probably early December,’’ Marinos added. “We need eight weeks in order for us to deliver a TRC (Rugby Championship).’’
If the Rugby Championship was to go ahead, it would have to dove-tail into the four Bledisloe Cup matches to be played between October 10 and November 8, as accidentally revealed by broadcaster Sky on social media last week.
Two of those fixtures could double as Rugby Championship fixtures.
Earlier reports that Perth could be a single-city host for the championship, providing a “bubble’’ for the four teams were dismissed by Marinos.
He said a “bubble’’ was not a major priority and that if one was formed it would more likely be on the opposite coast of Australia.
“First of all, there was never really a deep consideration of the bubble. If we were going to create any bubbles we would certainly be looking at the eastern seaboard of Australia for that.
A complicating factor is that the South Africa and Argentina unions have been unable to follow their New Zealand and Australian counterparts and launch domestic competitions.
SA Rugby hopes to launch a competition in late August. Argentina has also been forced into a holding pattern, with their situation complicated by the fact many test players are based in the Northern Hemisphere.
While Marinos accepts the 2021 competition formats, for the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby, may be impacted by the pandemic he remains bullish that stakeholders were committed to the joint-venture. A deal is in place until 2030.