NZR reveal All Blacks plans for 2021

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced a busy proposed schedule for the All Blacks in 2021.

The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic meant the national men's side played just six matches this year.

But they were set to play more than double that next year, after NZR chief executive Mark Robinson provided an update on Thursday after the organisation's final board meeting of the year.

The proposed scheduled included an opener against Fiji and two matches against Italy in New Zealand in July, a return to a full rugby Championship and an end of year tour to Europe for games against Italy, Ireland, and France.

Robinson also confirmed they were considering two additional matches for the All Blacks in the latter part of 2021, and noted the whole schedule depended on the Covid-19 situation and potential border limitations here and abroad.

"The All Blacks schedule for 2021 is starting to take shape," he said.

"We are looking to host, Covid-dependent, Italy and Fiji in July. We are also working with Sanzaar at the moment around hoping to finalise the Rugby Championship schedule as well as Bledisloe Cup and a third Bledisloe for next year.

"We are also looking at opportunities to play games outside of our regulation nine [international] window in November.

"At the moment we are due to play Italy, Ireland and France in those three weeks but we're looking at games on either shoulder of that fixture list in November or potentially two games before our first game in Europe against Italy."

Robinson also updated their progress in several other areas.

The annual funding provided to provincial unions would be cut by around 10 per cent and while the details concerning the men's national provincial competition for 2021 were still being finalised, it would include the same number of teams over the same number of weeks in the same part of the calendar.

The Farah Palmer Cup women's competition would return to it's original model, after a shift to a two-conference model this year, while the Heartland Championship would also be coming back.

Robinson said it might not be until after Christmas that they had a decision around the men's NPC.

"We've established the fact that we're going to reach out to our stakeholders in the very near future and we're working on a basic principle, the same number of teams, played across the same window, look at a couple of different options and share those in a little more detail and work through with our key stakeholders."

While there would be funding cut for the provincial unions, good news came in the form of the injection of more government money.

Robinson confirmed NZR had received an additional $5.41 million from the Covid-19 sports recovery package, with $3 million assigned to Maori, women and girls and disability rugby, as well as community and referee initiatives.

The remaining $2.41 million would go to the national sevens programme ahead of next year's Tokyo Olympics.

None of the extra funding would go to the professional game, Robinson said.