All Blacks cancel upcoming Rugby Championship Tests

New Zealand Rugby said the three-time world champions would remain at home while the tournament's governing body SANZAAR finalises plans for its remaining matches.

FILE: New Zealand's players perform the haka during the rugby test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on 3 July 2021. Picture: Michael Bradley/AFP

WELLINGTON - The All Blacks on Friday withdrew from this year's Rugby Championship until fixtures have been rescheduled to work around coronavirus restrictions.

New Zealand Rugby said the three-time world champions would remain at home while the tournament's governing body Sanzaar finalises plans for its remaining matches.

The All Blacks have five Tests remaining in the Rugby Championship, one against Australia and two each against South Africa and Argentina.

"Given the uncertainty, it makes sense to pause and get more clarity on these fixtures," NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.

"We remain 100% committed to playing in the entire Rugby Championship in 2021 and are working closely with Sanzaar to look at a range of options to reschedule these important matches."

The first of the scheduled Springboks Tests in Dunedin on 25 September would have been the 100th meeting between the All Blacks and South Africa.

"We share the disappointment of our fans, players and other stakeholders... the sold-out 100th Test between the All Blacks and South Africa was shaping up as a very special occasion," Robinson said.

In addition, Robinson said the All Blacks would not leave New Zealand for Perth on Sunday to prepare for a Championship Test against the Wallabies on 28 August.

Perth is no longer a viable venue for the matches because New Zealand's coronavirus outbreak means Kiwis need to enter quarantine when arriving in Western Australia state.

Reports in Australia said Queensland state remained an option and New Zealand media said the matches could be moved to Europe.

The global pandemic already forced the matches against Argentina to be moved, while South Africa skipped last year's tournament due to virus-related concerns over player welfare.

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