NT News

Players banned from the last Test

- RUSSELL GOULD

THE Rugby Championsh­ip Test between the Wallabies and Argentina will go ahead on the Gold Coast this Saturday despite players and staff members from the Pumas being banned from taking part after travelling across the NSW border to Byron Bay.

Six players and two staff crossed the Queensland-NSW border on Wednesday to attend a health retreat.

But as the players, including former Argentina captain Pablo Matera, tried to return to their training base on the Gold Coast, the group was stopped at the border and had to spend the evening at a hotel in Kingscliff.

Individual­s are only allowed to enter northern NSW for essential work, medical reasons or on compassion­ate grounds.

The group, which didn’t have permission from Rugby Championsh­ip organisers SANZAAR to make the trip, didn’t have any of those reasons for travel.

On Thursday, SANZAAR ruled the eight ineligible to participat­e further in The Rugby Championsh­ip and admonished them for the violation of Queensland government health orders.

“This travel across the state border is a direct breach of the present Queensland government health orders and SANZAAR’s Rugby Championsh­ip tournament biosecurit­y plan,” SANZAAR said in a statement.

“SANZAAR has informed Argentina Rugby that all members of this group are now ineligible to participat­e further in The Rugby Championsh­ip as they have breached tournament rules.

“SANZAAR is very disappoint­ed that such a breach has occurred given the clear rules that are in place to ensure the health and safety of all players and staff, and compliance with all relevant health orders.

“The group will now stay in New South Wales and will not be available for the round six match against Australia on the Gold Coast on Saturday. They will rejoin the rest of the touring squad on Sunday to fly back to Argentina.”

Later on Thursday, Rugby Australia confirmed the Test would proceed at 75 per cent crowd capacity in accordance with the Queensland Government’s new health directives.

The first 75 per cent of those to purchase tickets will be permitted to attend Saturday’s Test, with other tickethold­ers to be contacted regarding refunds by Friday afternoon.

The Pumas were unaware they were not allowed to make a day trip out of the state and were turned back at the border and as yet were not allowed back into Queensland.

Queensland premier Anastasia Palaszczuk said it was “very disappoint­ing”.

“There’s people they could have checked the rules with and now, unfortunat­ely, they’re stuck in NSW,” she said.

The Wallabies also had their Covid restrictio­ns tightened as a precaution on Thursday.

Argentina has a big enough squad – 44 players – to cover the loss of the six players.

 ?? ?? Ex-skipper Pablo Matera.
Ex-skipper Pablo Matera.

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