The Super Rugby trans-Tasman competition looks set to get underway as scheduled following yesterday's announcement of a quarantine-free travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia.
The six-week tournament is planned to begin in mid-May, with five rounds of games played before a final on June 19.
New Zealand Rugby's head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum told media this morning the bubble was "terrific news".
"It’s fantastic for everyone," Lendrum said.
"It's great [not just] for rugby, but for businesses, whānau, everybody who has relationships across the Tasman was delighted by the news."
Lendrum said being able to play the competition across both countries without teams needing to quarantine was always "plan A", and said NZR was delighted that plan would be able to come to fruition.
"It was always what we wanted. There’s two really strong teams – the Reds and the Brumbies – and I know our teams are looking forward to testing themselves against them.
"I know the players are excited, I think the coaches will be excited by the challenge and the opportunity to make not just one but two finals through the course of the Super Rugby season."
Lendrum said NZR had no plans to ask the Government for its players to be fast-tracked through the vaccination rollout, saying NZR was comfortable with its players going to and from Australia without any special travel requirements.
"We had our All Blacks in Australia last year. Obviously there was a different travel regime in place but we were more than comfortable with our players being in Australia.
"We're just like any other member of the public travelling to or from Australia over the coming months. We'll sit in line with our Super Rugby clubs and we'll get our vaccinations when the Government tells us we can."
It had been mooted that the third round of the trans-Tasman competition would be a 'Super Round', where all the games would be played at one venue.
But Lendrum said today that would no longer take place, citing logistical concerns.
The games were currently in the process of being re-scheduled for standard home and away fixtures.
The bubble would also allow for the Rugby Championship to go ahead, and Lendrum said discussions were underway with SANZAAR and Rugby Australia regarding plans for the competition later in the year.