Super Rugby alternative suffers big blow
COVID-19: New Zealand Rugby’s plan to stage derbies involving their Super Rugby franchises is set to be canned.
On Thursday, New Zealand’s government announced that mass gatherings will be limited to 100 people when hosted indoors.
The government has further stipulated that, although schools, universities and workplaces are exempt from this ruling, it does apply to sporting and religious events.
Whether stadium-hosted events count as indoors or outdoors is unclear, but any chances of a replacement Super Rugby tournament getting off the ground will be cut off at the knees if matches are restricted to fewer than 100 people – even if the games are closed off to the public.
According to Stuff, a crowdless Super Rugby game would still require around 150 people present at a stadium, including players, security and stadium support staff.
Story continues below…
A domestic, fan-free competition between New Zealand’s five Super Rugby franchises was seen as the potential saviour to the country’s professional rugby season with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and key broadcaster Sky already both set to lose huge amounts of revenue thanks to coronavirus.
Stuff speculates that the franchises could ride out one season without the regular revenues coming in but if the pandemic were to settle in for more than 12 months then all bets are off.
The government’s latest mass gathering ban could force NZR to pull the plug on any Super Rugby alternatives which could have disastrous consequences across the board, for the union, broadcasters and the players alike.
*South Africa Rugby is also exploring the option to return to an internal franchise and club competition, in the wake of the recent measures introduced to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic
These plans could see South African franchises and other provincial teams return to a new, locally-based derby competition in view of the current suspension of Super Rugby and the Pro14.
The return of a locally-based derby competition could also spark spectators’ interest and see the revival of South Africa’s prestigious Currie Cup competition.
Stuff & @RugbyPass