New Zealand Rugby (NZR) appears to have known the Rugby Championship would conclude on Dec. 12 despite assertions it had been blindsided by the fixture list, according to reports from leaked minutes of a meeting this month.
The southern hemisphere tournament's fixtures were released last week, with the All Blacks final game scheduled for Dec. 12 which would force them to spend Christmas in isolation for coronavirus quarantine upon arriving home.
NZR, which was pushing for a Dec. 5 finish, said at the time it had not known about the finalised fixtures and did not agree to them, something Chief Executive Mark Robinson repeated in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
New Zealand's Newshub and Australia's Sydney Morning Herald, however, then reported that minutes they had seen from a Sept. 17 meeting showed that NZR was aware the tournament would not finish until Dec. 12. The fixtures were made public on Sept. 24.
Reuters has not been able to obtain the minutes and NZR did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the reports.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan said on Tuesday he had seen the minutes that outlined the fixture list.
Robinson told reporters on Wednesday the minutes were not from a SANZAAR board meeting but could have been one of the numerous calls between chief executives or operations staff.
"All I would say is that in any forum we have been in, there has been no agreement to play in the tournament on December 12 at any time and at any meeting," he said.
"We have been very clear around that and any correspondence on our end. That's something we have been very consistent with."
SANZAAR and Rugby Australia both said last week that NZR had not been blindsided.
Both said on Wednesday they had no further comment.