New Zealand have cancelled their home Rugby Championship Tests against South Africa due to Covid-19 restrictions and will not travel to Perth for their match against Australia next week, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said on Friday.
The All Blacks were to face South Africa in Dunedin on Sept. 25 and at Eden Park in Auckland on Oct. 2 but the New Zealand government had advised NZR that the Springboks would not be permitted to enter the country.
"We share the disappointment of our fans, players and other stakeholders, particularly those in Dunedin where the sold-out 100th test between the All Blacks and South Africa was shaping up as a very special occasion," NZR CEO Mark Robinson said.
"We understand the importance of putting the health and safety of New Zealanders first."
The All Blacks were scheduled to travel to Perth this weekend in preparation for their match against the Wallabies on Aug. 28 but will remain in New Zealand, NZR said.
"Without complete certainty on the team’s next movements around The Rugby Championship we felt it was prudent for the team to stay put in New Zealand until SANZAAR have announced the full tournament schedule," Robinson said.
"Once the team leaves our shores, they currently can’t return until Nov. 23 post their northern tour, so given the uncertainty, it makes sense to pause and get more clarity on these fixtures."
New Zealand's Covid-19 outbreak widened beyond its largest city Auckland on Friday as new infections were discovered in the capital Wellington and case numbers jumped to 31.
The findings meant Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will most likely extend a nationwide lockdown that she announced this week to try to curb the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.