NZ Rugby frustrated at unions’ exemption error

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) have put the hard word on provincial unions who had players travel out of Auckland on Covid-19 travel exemptions which have now been revoked.

Six players who travelled to Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, Bay of Plenty and Northland were back in Auckland after errors were discovered in online exemption applications made by five unions.

After being alerted to the situation by NZR, government officials revoked the travel exemptions.

NZR boss Mark Robinson said they were completely unaware the applications had been made, and stepped in on Monday when they learned there was a problem.

Robinson said the specific details of the errors was a question for the unions, but was clear he was not happy they weren’t consulted.

“We’ve certainly communicated back to our provincial unions, both in various calls and more formally in writing, that this is a critical time for our country and that we have worked really, really hard with government and all the associated agencies to be absolutely committed to all the health protocols associated with Covid at the moment.”

Four of the players had received both their Covid-19 vaccination shots, while the other two had received their first one.

Five of the six players had also tested negative for Covid in the past 10 days.

The other player was in the process of being tested, but had tested negative in the past and was double vaccinated.

Robinson said, based on what he understood, there was no concern any of the players had contracted or spread the virus.

And he was stressing the unions, not the players, were to blame.

“The provincial unions made the applications. We were not consulted on that or involved.

“From what I understand, the provincial unions each made an error during the online process associated with that.

“When we realised there was an error we front-footed that with the government.”

Robinson said their focus now was on fully resolving the situation, but he was apologising for the mistakes.

“We’re incredibly disappointed and frustrated that we’re in this position, and we realise it’s an incredibly unfortunate situation.

“Since we were made aware of this on Monday [we’ve] talked to all of the necessary agencies as soon as possible, been very open and transparent with them, shared all the information we had and looked to take guidance on the way to remedy the situation.

“Certainly, on behalf of the game, regret that it’s happened.”

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