New Zealand’s proposed replacement Super Rugby competition looks in increasing doubt to start in the short term.
It was announced that a similar proposal in Australia had been postponed earlier this week due to tighter government restrictions around work and travel, similar to what New Zealand will observe over the next month.
Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall has admitted he wouldn’t feel comfortable playing in the current crisis which has seen sports cancelled around the world in a bid to contain the coronavirus pandemic which has killed thousands of people.
Ben Foden sat down to chat to Jim Hamilton on episode 2 of the Lockdown all the way from the US:
“To be honest, not really,” he told the Radio Sport Breakfast. “We’re competitors and we’d love to play but being aligned with what the government wants us to do is the most important thing.
“First and foremost we have to be able to be healthy and stop the spread of the coronavirus. Hopefully when that settles down we can resume rugby.
“Don’t get us wrong, we’d love to be out there. But at this time we have to be smart. If you’re playing with a lot of people that just adds risk to the coronavirus spreading.
“If we don’t play there have been some great ideas to give some content to our fans and people.
“Hopefully we can continue our season … but if not we have to be brave and look at how we can get content out there for our fans to watch.”
With New Zealand’s five Super franchises rallying in an attempt to salvage something from a season wrecked by the pandemic, this week’s news from Australia may alter the thinking on this side of the Tasman.
And, with the majority of the Crusaders and Chiefs players in voluntary self-isolation, and the Blues following a similar protocol, the proposed April 4 starting date in New Zealand looks increasingly unattainable.
Australian Rugby chief executive Raylene Castle announced that the Aussie comp, slated to start on April 3, would be pushed out to May 1 after the Australian Government and various state and territory governments further restricted travel in a bit to contain the pandemic.
Hall and his Crusaders teammates have observed more than a week of isolation after travelling home from Brisbane on March 16 following their win over the Sunwolves.
It’s understood that the Blues, who held a staff meeting on Monday, have closed the gym at their Alexandra Park headquarters, with the players told to continue training by themselves at home.
Like Hall, Castle reinforced the message that government advice must be followed.
“The decision to postpone the restart of the competition until May 1 is in line with the suspension of all community rugby in Australia and will give us the opportunity to review our position across the whole rugby landscape in a month’s time,” she said.
“Our message to the entire rugby community today is to follow the advice of the Government and health authorities. We must do whatever it takes to stop the spread of the virus. The spirit of the rugby community is a powerful force, and the only way out of this crisis is to work together and look out for each other.
“While this is having an unprecedented impact on our sport and many other sports, this is bigger than sport and that is why we will continue to put the health and welfare of our people above anything else.”
WATCH: Premiership Rugby are considering midweek matches in order to finish the season.More News
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now