Super Rugby: New Zealand first to return to live sport

New Zealand looks set to become the first country where rugby will resume. A domestic Super Rugby competition will begin preparations as soon as the country moves to Alert Level 2.

New Zealand looks set to be the first country to resume live sport, following the announcement from the country’s goverment that professional rugby and netball will resume at COVID-19 alert level two.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will make an announce next Monday on when New Zealand will move to ‘Alert Level 2’.

When will Super Rugby return to New Zealand?

That will depend, but once the date is announced, teams and players will need about four weeks to prepare.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Mark Robinson was quoted as saying: “Both netball and rugby have been working closely with Government agencies on what training and playing at level two could look like, and we are incredibly grateful for their support.”

How New Zealand’s domestic Super Rugby will work

According to an official statement released by NZR, the comeptition will strech across ten weeks with each team playing each other home and away. There will be two fixtures every weekend, but these will be played in clsoed stadiums.

Robinson said that health and safety remains the first priority, though.

“While we want to see our game up and running as soon as possible, we won’t make decisions that will put anyone at risk. We have always said we will take the Government’s lead on when it is safe to return.”

More details will be revealed in due course, but the statement added that discussions for the game to resume at community and club level are already underway.

The statement read:

Robinson said the guidelines provided clarity for Provincial Unions, Clubs and schools, and meant staff and volunteers could make robust plans for how rugby could be played across New Zealand.

“This is an encouraging step for all our thousands of players, coaches, referees and volunteers who’ve been missing their weekend footy over the past couple of months. We look forward to being back on the grass when we’re cleared to do so.”

NZR is developing COVID-19 training resources for Clubs, volunteers and schools to help them prepare for a return to play.

SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said Super Rugby fans in New Zealand and across the globe would be excited that we may, in the near future, be able to restart rugby.

“We have known for some time that once the green light is given to recommence playing [in any of our territories] that a revised Super Rugby competition format would have to be implemented. This will mean a strong domestic focus in each territory given the travel, border and Government restrictions that we will have to adhere to.”

“Given today’s announcement by the New Zealand Government, SANZAAR will now in conjunction with NZR move to the implementation of the revised Super Rugby format that has been agreed upon by all SANZAAR partners and stakeholders. We will work with NZR around the possible start date that satisfies Government requirements.”

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Staff Reporter