While there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before the international calendar kicks off in July, rugby officials are desperate to ensure the Wallabies feature in more than 2020′s tally of six tests.
Australia squared off against the Kiwis in four consecutive tests last year. Michael Hooper’s men drew the first test in Wellington, fell in Auckland and Sydney to ultimately squander the Bledisloe Cup, before salvaging some pride in Brisbane with a 24-22 victory.
There is hope 2021 will return to some semblance of normality. New Zealand is set to host two of this year’s three Bledisloe Cup matches, meaning Australia will need to chalk up a win across the ditch to regain the trophy they have not held since 2002.
RA has an agreement with the WA government to take another Bledisloe match west after Perth hosted the Wallabies in 2019 when, under coach Michael Cheika, the team stunned New Zealand in a 47-26 victory.
For years, Sydney has been synonymous with Bledisloe fixtures, but the Harbour City missed out in 2019 when there were only two matches – in Perth and Auckland – due to the World Cup in Japan.
The decision in 2019 was in part due to the Sydney Football Stadium rebuild but the All Blacks look destined to play elsewhere in 2021 as well, provided the draft schedule remains in place and COVID-19 doesn’t once again cause headaches for organisers.
Outside of World Cup years, the last time Sydney did not host the All Blacks for a test came 15 years ago. The three trans-Tasman matches of 2006 were contested in Christchurch, Brisbane and Auckland - a series New Zealand won 3-0.
The Wallabies have a miserable record in Sydney against New Zealand. They have lost their last four matches by an average of almost 30 points, including an embarrassing 43-5 defeat in October.
Sydney, however, will almost certainly host a Rugby Championship match, assuming South Africa and Argentina can travel out later in the year.
RA says a fourth Bledisloe match, as an extra money spinner, is unlikely to be squeezed into the calendar for 2021. Speculation a Bledisloe fixture could be taken overseas has also been hosed down.