COVID-19: Super blow for domestic derbies
NEWS: Plans by Australian and New Zealand franchises to stage domestic competitions were put on hold Monday and the international season is also in doubt.
Training in both countries has also been halted, following after tough new government measures to contain the coronavirus.
In Australia, the four Super Rugby teams – Reds, Brumbies, Waratahs and Rebels – plus the axed Western Force, were due to kick off a round robin tournament on April 3, after Super Rugby was suspended.
New Zealand had planned something similar with their five franchises.
However, that has now been delayed until at least May 1 – following government recommendations against non-essential domestic travel and the shutdown of a range of businesses countrywide.
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Western Australia, where Western Force is based, will also close its borders on Tuesday, effectively preventing movement in or out of the state without observing two-week quarantine periods.
Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle said the game’s stakeholders were united behind the move.
“The decision to postpone the restart of the competition until May 1 is in line with the suspension of all community rugby in Australia and will give us the opportunity to review our position across the whole rugby landscape in a month’s time,” she said.
“While this is having an unprecedented impact on our sport and many other sports, this is bigger than sport and that is why we will continue to put the health and welfare of our people above anything else.”
Western Force, Reds, Waratahs, Rebels and the Brumbies have all stopped training for an initial two weeks, with modified programmes resuming after that.
The same happened in New Zealand, following their government’s lifting of the coronavirus alert status to Level Three.
New Zealand Rugby, in a statement, announced that all rugby in the country will be suspended for the foreseeable future.
SANZAAR, the NZRU, New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchises and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association had been working on ways to progress a revised Super Rugby competition but these plans are now on hold following today’s Government announcement.
“All New Zealand teams will cease training, and at this stage, there are no decisions on the future of the Super Rugby competition or the All Blacks Tests scheduled for July,” the statement said.
NZRU Chief Executive Mark Robinson said their priority is the health and welfare of our players, management and the wider rugby community at this challenging time.