New Zealand Rugby has confirmed talks are under way to stage a cross-code match between the All Blacks and the Kangaroos.
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson verified reports an historic hybrid game could take place later in the year as a money-making venture, bringing the pinnacle international teams from rugby union and rugby league together.
Robinson said the coronavirus pandemic had forced all sports to be innovative to address a financial hammering.
“We must be very clear that our priority is for the All Blacks to play international rugby for the remainder of the year and we’ve talked about the uncertainty around that,” Robinson said.
“But we’ve had the option put to us of this hybrid game with the Kangaroos, and it’s one of many different scenarios in a unique year like this that we are considering with being innovative and having a focus on trying to consider revenue-generating ideas at this time.”
Some early reports suggest the game would be a compromised 14-a-side affair but other details of how the match would be played are still to be clarified.
Such a match would probably be played in December, when the top Australian players had completed their scheduled State of Origin commitments the previous month and the All Blacks had potentially played Test matches – most probably against the Wallabies.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga told the Courier Mail the concept had entered “serious negotiations”.
“This would take the Kangaroos to the world. There will be global recognition. I’m keen to make this happen. We want to play the All Blacks, hopefully, we can get the concept off the ground.”
Manly playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans – a 15-Test Kangaroo – said he was interested in taking part in such a contest.
“Anything like that, where there’s an opportunity to grow the game of rugby league and in particular at a time like now, I think it’s a great idea,” he said.
“I’ve always maintained I’ve love to play rep football for as long as I’m up for it. If my form provided to be there, I’d love to play something like that. It’d be unreal, great to look back on and experience something like that.”
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy said the match is one he would enjoy watching but wasn’t sure how the rules would work.
“Someone said they’d have rugby union rules for one half and rugby league for another half,” he said. “I wouldn’t like to be a rugby league player at the bottom of one of them mauls. That’d be an ugly place to be if you’re not used to it.”