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Rugby in New Zealand 'fighting for survival' admits NZR boss

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson says the sport is "fighting for survival" as competitions at all levels are shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.

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A New Zealand only tournament has been suggested, but fans might have to watch from home. Source: 1 NEWS

Robinson told Sky Sport's "The Breakdown" he can't say when professional rugby might resume in New Zealand and in what form, whether it would be the five-nation Super Rugby tournament or the domestic Mitre 10 Cup.

The continuing suspension of competitions was fully testing rugby's resilience, Robinson said.

"We're fighting for sport's survival in New Zealand around rugby, and if you can't get motivated by that challenge and the opportunity that sits beyond that then we'll never be motivated," Robinson said.

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With no clear timeframe of when it will be safe to return to sport, a backup plan is being put in place just in case rugby makes an early comeback. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's creating anxiety in our game at all levels, from our clubs and community level and into our professional ranks.

"We've just got to take a little more time to understand the information we have to gather and then we'll be in a position hopefully early next week to start making some decisions and giving a bit more direction and certainty to people."

Robinson said he had taken part in a conference call with World Rugby but wasn't able to say whether July Test matches will take place.

World Rugby is “in a similar mode to what we all are at the moment, trying to understand a whole range of different scenarios," he said.

"At the moment the dialogue looks very positive and constructive but, like a lot conversations, we need a bit more time to play out what this might look like.

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Mark Robinson said the controlled environments of Super Rugby teams means it could be possible for NZ sides to face each other. Source: 1 NEWS

"A hell of a lot of work is going on in the background."

New Zealand Rugby has indicated it might be forced to call for government assistance if the shutdown persists and further strains its finances. The organization had already taken steps to cut expenditure but hadn't yet moved to cut pay to top players.

"The government has done an amazing job in showing leadership," Robinson said. "In a way that has left us with the best opportunity to get on the field earlier.

"If we're looking at a short turnaround to get through this and past COVID-19, then it presents a great opportunity to be playing rugby all the more earlier."