Super Rugby faces new threat
Sporting codes on both sides of the Tasman will lobby the New Zealand government after being wrong-footed by its call to bar Australians and foreigners well into 2022.
On Wednesday, Jacinda Ardern’s government unveiled changes to its border regime, deciding to keep isolation requirements in place next year.
That means the freshly drawn Super Rugby Pacific fixture list is up for a complete overhaul.
“Of course I want the Super Rugby competition to take place but we’re always led by the health advice,” Deputy Prime Minister and Sports Minister Grant Robertson said.
“The ministry of health’s advice consistently has been not to have shortened isolation time.
“So if sports teams are going to be using [self-isolation] it will be the same length of time.”
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Chris Lendlum said his organisation was “digesting” the news given the potential impact on Super Rugby Pacific.
“We now need to see more detail from Government and continue working on our existing contingency planning with key partners including Rugby Australia, SANZAAR and our teams,” he said.
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The same applies to other sporting codes – including the NBL’s plans to take the New Zealand Breakers back to Auckland.
Other competitions and codes with Kiwi athletes, including cricket and Supercars, could also be impacted by the border tweaks.
The NZ government is gradually doing away with the compulsory quarantine-on-arrival loathed by touring sporting teams.
From January 17, Kiwis in Australia will be able to skip quarantine in favour of self-isolation.
From April 30, Australians and other foreigners will be able to do the same.
However, the seven-day self-isolation requirement will stay – even for NZ citizens – rendering many sporting competitions unworkable.
The hard-line health-first government is not planning exemptions for sporting teams until there is health advice to support it.