The United Kingdom has had to withdraw their team from the forthcoming New Zealand Quadrangular, which is taking place in Turangi from the 25th to the 31st of March 2013. The United Kingdom were due to compete against teams from New Zealand itself, Australia and Zambia but are believed to have informed New Zealand officially a few weeks ago that they felt they could not fulfil this commitment.
A short official statement received from the UKPA read, “Unfortunately due to an unforeseen combination of individual circumstances the UKPA is no longer able to send an appropriately experienced team to the Quadrangular series in New Zealand this Spring. The UKPA is extremely sorry to have to withdraw and has sent its apologies to New Zealand”. It is believed that the UK’s players were struggling with the time and cost commitments of travelling to New Zealand in March, especially as the UK is also meant to be sending a team to South Africa in July to compete against the USA, Zimbabwe and South Africa there.
The estimated cost of the New Zealand tour for each UK player was thought to be between £2,500 and £3,000 per player and this would have been self funded, unless the team could find sponsors willing to help with the cost (which would have been unlikely at this stage). The timing of the tour early on in the year was also believed to be a problem for a number of the UK open squad and ultimately it would seem that not enough of the players could make the trip for the UK to fulfil its commitment.
This withdrawal is clearly an embarassment for the UKPA who seem to have got caught in a bi-quadrangular commitment nightmare where they end up looking like they are favouring South Africa ahead of New Zealand. It is believed they had accepted the New Zealand invite before the South African invite was received and that the UKPA Executive felt they could not turn down the opportunity to play in South Africa two years before a World Cup was held there. They were also determined to honour their previous commitment to New Zealand and so ended up accepting both invites. People familiar with the situation have said that with hindsight it was the wrong decision and one tour should have been turned down, but at the time it was thought to be possible to send two fairly separate teams. Ultimately this has not been possible and players appear to have not been available and able to fund the New Zealand tour, though the UK is thought to be able to send a team to South Africa in July.
There has been no official word from New Zealand on the plans for the Quadrangular now that the UK has had to withdraw. There were rumours that a mixed team of players could be built from other nations, as happened in 2012 when Zimbabwe withdrew from the Under 25’s Quadrangular in South Africa.