New Zealand’s five Super Rugby teams have been told by New Zealand Rugby to prepare for a return to play under Covid-19 restrictions but no clear date has been set for a NZ-only competition resumption.
By 1 NEWS Sport presenter Scotty Stevenson
The Super Rugby season was suspended indefinitely on March 15, midway through the seventh round. Since that time, the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders, and Highlanders have been unable to assemble or train. Under draft Level-2 restrictions, one-metre personal distancing must be maintained. Exemptions to these rules would therefore need to be granted.
As 1 NEWS reported in April, New Zealand Rugby is desperate to supply some form of televised content for its broadcaster. NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson says the organisation faces a revenue loss of up to $120 million this year.
With overseas travel unlikely in the short to medium term, an all-NZ tournament is set for the green light. That would see each of the Kiwi teams play each other home and away.
The Government has not confirmed it's Level 2 protocols but in draft form these restricted outdoor gatherings to no more than 500 people. That would mean matches would be played without crowds.
Several coaches have told 1 NEWS that teams would need a minimum of three weeks’ preparation together before contemplating a match.
One coach said, “the players won’t know how fit they really are until they are back, then we’ll need to test before we can think about contact.
“Even then, this will be brutal. The first instinct our players have in a local derby is to go hammer and tongs. It may be a case of which team can survive the most injuries.”
The Government will be making an announcement on a potential move to Level 2 today, while the epidemic response committee will also be hearing from the sporting sector.