Wellington is set to miss out when it comes to next June's highly anticipated three tests against World Cup final opponents France.
And it seems the days of any venues outside Auckland getting more than one test a year are over for the foreseeable future.
Wellingtonians have been spoiled with multiple tests in recent times and are smarting at the allocation of just one test this year, against Rugby Championship newcomers Argentina.
The New Zealand Rugby Union has not confirmed next year's allocations, but it seems certain France will skip Wellington.
That's partly because the NZRU is locked in to commitments to other venues, including playing two tests at Eden Park, one in Christchurch and one in Dunedin.
Throw in the already confirmed test in Taranaki and it follows logic that France will play in Auckland, then probably the two smaller venues of New Plymouth and Christchurch.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said nothing was confirmed, but acknowledged the ability to spread tests around venues was currently more challenging than ever.
For the next three years the first and third ranked tests on the calendar must be played at Eden Park as part of a deal with the Government tied to the ground's $400 million redevelopment before the Rugby World Cup.
Similarly, one must be played in Christchurch for the same period to help pay for the development of the temporary AMI Stadium, and one at Dunedin's Forysth Barr Stadium for the next two years as part of a "rescue package" for Otago rugby.
"The challenge we have is we have more venues and communities with those venues expecting the All Blacks to play there than we have games," Tew said.
"We have to balance our strong desire for the team to be available and accessible to as much of the country as possible. But it's also the economic engine of the rest of the game.
"So if we don't play tests that go close to maximising revenue we can't fund community rugby and everything else we do.
"So it is difficult for anyone to expect two tests.
"Wellington probably got two in the past because we were filling gaps with Eden Park being redeveloped and prior to that AMI being redeveloped and also a period where Dunedin didn't get any till they sorted their venue out."
In fact, Wellington hosted two tests in 2008, 2009 and were saturated last year with two All Blacks tests and a further seven Rugby World Cup matches.
Wellington Rugby Union chief executive James Te Puni said the board had lobbied for two tests next year including France, but was realistic about the current environment.
"The important thing is, we have got test rugby here each year," he said. "I would hope the opportunity to have two again happens, but with the sevens and the Hurricanes we do okay."
Te Puni said Argentina presented a unique opportunity and pointed to the colourful crowd that watched them play Scotland during the World Cup.
Ticket sales for the match currently sit at 18,000 as fans possibly wait to see how the Pumas fare in their opening matches in the tournament.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should Robbie Deans be retained as coach of the Wallabies?Related story: (See story)