New Zealand of rugby, the All Blacks, payed for the second time for the lack of adequate facilities and the very tight containment measures of Covid-19 imposed by the government. First the decision to move the Rugby Championship to Australia, in the Sydney bubble.
Mark Robinson, CEO of the New Zealand federation said: “All the plans we were working on were for the last game of the All Blacks to be on December 5th, to give our players the opportunity to manage the quarantine in New Zealand and spend Christmas with the family.
We understand commercial considerations, but the well-being of our players is also an incredibly important factor. We know that playing the calendar was difficult, but we do not approve of it and we are disappointed by this announcement."
All Blacks: Christmas in isolation
The issue obviously sparked protests from New Zealanders. Within the All Blacks the reluctance of some players to be called up for the tournament had already emerged, starting with key men such as TJ Perenara, Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett himself, all newly fathers or those waiting to become one.
Then the certainty that for all the All Blacks it will be a Christmas in quarantine. In fact, the Rugby Championship calendar foresees that Australia-New Zealand, the last match of the tournament, will be played on 12 December at the Sydney Olympic.
Under the current rules in New South Wales, the stadium could be 50% full, so there could be 40,000 people. The current rules mpose 14 days of quarantine on those arriving in New Zealand. It means that playing on December 12th in Sydney and then presumably returning home on the 13th, players and staff will have to stay in solitary confinement in a protected location - therefore away from their families until December 27th.
Meanwhile, some days ago we talked about the clouds on French Rugby. The president of the French Rugby Federation and vice president of the Six Nations Bernard Laporte has been in custody in Paris since this morning. With him also the president of Montpellier Mohed Altrad and three other members of the federal top, all involved in an affair of pressure on institutions and suspicious sponsorships.
A twist, two weeks before the elections of the highest French rugby institution. In 2017 Laporte would have intervened to try to reduce the disqualification and fine imposed on the Altrad club for banners displayed at the Montpellier stadium.
A conflict of interest, according to investigators, considering the link with the wealthy businessman and owner of Montpellier who was the first to become the official sponsor of the French national team, as well as a supporter of the 2023 World Cup, but at rates considered too preferential compared to others partner.
So the deal ended up in the hands of the investigators of the financial prosecutor who this morning summoned the entire staff for interrogations, but also decided to put Laporte, Altrad in custody together with the vice president of the federation Serge Simon, the head of international relations Nicolas Hourquet, and the general manager of the 2023 World Cup, Claude Atcher.