Sanzaar and New Zealand Rugby bosses have expressed surprise at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's suggestion that "politics" was behind the decision to award the Rugby Championship hosting rights to Australia.
Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos and NZR counterpart Mark Robinson were baffled by the comments, insisting instead that the more favourable quarantine regulations across the ditch was the reason for the revamped four-nation tournament moving there.
The Herald reported early on Friday that the tournament, set to start in November and originally destined for New Zealand, would be moved across the Tasman following a crunch meeting between representatives from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
However, Ardern insisted at a press conference shortly before the announcement that "Sanzaar politics" was to blame for the decision.
"We worked very hard with health and tournament workers to make it work.
"If this decision doesn't go our way, I'd say it would be a result of Sanzaar politics more than anything else, she said.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Heather du Plessis-Allan, Marinos denied Ardern's comments.
"I have no idea, just a very interesting reflection point she's got there. [Politics weren't involved] in this decision at all, and all four parties were at the table. I can't stress enough the whole emphasis right from the beginning… we had to make sure it ticked the box and it was commercially viable and sustainable," Marinos said.
"Secondly our teams would be able to come into a quarantine regime that would enable them to prepare and get themselves in the best possible shape."
"No I don't understand it [Ardern's comments], and it's certainly not the case. There's a lot of speculation going around.
"We are very clear, Sanzaar have been very clear in their statement.
"We gave it our absolute best because we know the significant impact it would have made in this country. We know that having six or so big match days around the country... as well as giving the nation a lift, quite apart from the economic impact that would have had, it was something that was dear to us all."
Sport Minister Grant Robertson defended the decisions surrounding quarantine by the Government and health officials.
"I think what [Ardern]'s referring to there is the question around the border commercial arrangements.
"The reason that we had the rules that we had around quarantine is because that's the advice we got from the Ministry of Health. We worked with them and New Zealand Rugby on what we believed was a protocol and a training arrangement that would support both the health and safety of the players… and giving them a training environment which they could work in.
"We came up with a workable proposition, it didn't get across the line and that is disappointing.
"No one would be more keen than me to see the Rugby Championship played in New Zealand. But we have to do that in a way that protects both the safety of the players in the teams, and the safety and health of New Zealanders."
Marinos says the planned schedule sees teams play six games in six weeks, which will take an almighty toll on their bodies and would require a sufficient amount of preparation.
"We can't take lightly the fact we've got two countries [Argentina and South Africa] that have had very limited and very restricted ability to play and prepare in comparison to what Australia and New Zealand have had," he adds.
Marinos expects the Argentinian and South African squads, players and staff included, to range from 40 to 45 people each.
He says quarantine was a big factor, conceding the ability for teams to go right into training in with their full squads in Australia, was more attractive than bubble limits of 25 people in New Zealand.
"[Coming over] into a strict quarantine process certainly doesn't help."
There is a positive for New Zealand, who are set to host two Bledisloe Cup matches, pencilled in for October 17 and 24, likely in Auckland and Wellington.