Wallabies coach Dave Rennie over Bledisloe boycott by Peter FitzSimons

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Renowned sports columnist Peter FitzSimons has blasted Wallabies coach Dave Rennie for threatening to boycott this year’s Bledisloe Cup due to scheduling complaints.

Before yesterday’s confirmation that the trans-Tasman series would go ahead next month in New Zealand Rennie said his Wallabies were willing to sit it out unless the scheduling was reconfigured.

The Wallabies coach was left frustrated at the idea his side would be forced to quarantine for two weeks and then play a Test match one week later with minimal training.

Under the new agreement between the New Zealand government and Rugby Australia, the Wallabies can get into full squad training four days after arriving, assuming all players return negative tests to COVID-19.

Despite the resolution, seven-Test Wallaby FitzSimons was left frustrated at Rennie’s willingness to walk away had his demands not been met.

He said regardless of the situation, rugby’s dire footprint in Australia meant there shouldn’t have been any debate about the Bledisloe Cup not taking place.

“Settle down, you’re the Wallabies coach,” FitzSimons told Wide World of Sports’ 5 Minutes with Fitzy.

“At the moment, rugby union in Australia is on the bones of it’s arse and Rugby Australia needs revenue, needs eyeballs to remind the world that the Wallabies and rugby in Australia still exists.

“Had he held his line, him saying the Wallabies won’t be playing, I think he would’ve been told: ‘You’re an employee of Rugby Australia, they bloody well will be playing’.”

Petaia in for Super Rugby final

Since the COVID-19 outbreak put the brakes on sport globally, rugby union has been hit hard, especially in Australia and New Zealand.

The Super Rugby season in the southern hemisphere was then split up into two different competitions when it was safe to resume the sport.

Super Rugby AU, consisting of just the Australian teams was the Australian competition, while Super Rugby Aotearoa was the competition for the New Zealand-based franchises.

Moving forward, FitzSimons says the focus of the Super Rugby competition needs to be on Australia and New Zealand, even if it means that South Africa drifts off to the northern hemisphere.

“The absolute core of it is Australia and New Zealand. They are the ones who will attract eyeballs,” he said.

“South Africa may drift off to the northern hemisphere because they’re in the same time zone.

“In 1984 when I was playing in Italy, the Springbok five-eighth Naas Botha, he used to play for South Africa on a Saturday, fly through the night to get to Italy.

“I think the future of Super Rugby, the core will be New Zealand and Australia.”

FitzSimons said New Zealand rugby would weaken the further the code slipped in Australia, with the All Blacks to ultimately suffer if the New Zealand teams keep thumping Aussie rivals at both Test and provincial level.

“The truth about New Zealand rugby is they need us as much as we need them,” FitzSimons added.

“In this part of the world, what’s good for Australian rugby is good for New Zealand rugby.

“The truth of it is, for the integrity of the competition, there has to be tension.

“There has to be, which way is this going to go? That’s the paradox for New Zealand.

“They want to thump us on the field, but frankly they can’t afford to thump us by 50 points every time because the thing will die.”