Published: Tue, March 24, 2020
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Coronavirus: Super Rugby domestic competition plans on hold

Coronavirus: Super Rugby domestic competition plans on hold

Australia's four Super Rugby clubs Friday agreed to play a domestic competition starting next month after the coronavirus pandemic forced their season to be suspended, with axed team Western Force set to replace Japan's Sunwolves.

Any prospect of the proposed competition involving the five Kiwi Super Rugby teams became untenable when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced new measures in which non-essential businesses must close and all indoor and outdoor events are banned.

With the Crusaders, Chiefs and Highlanders already in self isolation due to recent overseas travel, and the Blues players told to stay away from their Alexandra Park headquarters, an attempt to salvage something from the wreckage of the Super Rugby season was always a slim hope, especially after Australian rugby this morning postponed their equivalent competition.

New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson has confirmed his organisation will ask for financial assistance from the Government as the Covid-19 crisis worsens here.

NZ Rugby also extended the suspension to team trainings.

"Rugby Australia has approached the Western Force to join the four Australian Super Rugby teams to play in the new proposed domestic model", the statement read.

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"In what has been a challenging time for everyone in our sport, we have seen the rugby bodies in Australia come together to put their full weight behind finding a way for our game to continue in 2020". We know we're going to pull out of this as a game and as a country, it's just a matter of when.

All Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby teams will cease training for at least two weeks, though individual players are able to continue personal fitness regimes. "We've had a very constructive dialogue, it's only just kicked off and we'll continue to work through that".

The Welsh Rugby Union are still planning for those matches to go ahead but they would be taking guidance from key stakeholders such as NZR and the New Zealand Government, he said.

"All New Zealand teams will cease training, and at this stage there are no decisions on the future of the Investec Super Rugby competition or the All Blacks Tests scheduled for July".

By staging the derby games NZR believed it could provide a quality product to rugby-starved fans, and to broadcaster Sky which is desperate for content in the wake of sports around the globe being canned.

Robinson said they have also been watching closely what has been happening with the sporting landscape in Australia.

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