The Global Rapid Rugby season has been cancelled due to the long-term travel restrictions in place forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Only the opening round of the competition had been played before the competition was suspended on March 15.

Global Rapid Rugby chief executive Mark Evans said the Asia Pacific competition – which includes Australian side Western Force – had no choice but to cancel the remainder of this year’s campaign.

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“All of our decisions around Global Rapid Rugby in 2020 have been based on expert health advice; there are global realities and challenges that cannot and should not be ignored or worked around,” Evans said in a statement on Tuesday.

“In the current circumstances we feel that our hand has been forced to upgrade our previous season one suspension to a complete cancellation.

“We will continue to work closely with all teams and stakeholders around potential future plans.”

News of the cancellation makes Global Rapid Rugby the first competition involving a professional men’s team in Australia to be cancelled.

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The full statement reads:

Rapid Rugby CEO Mark Evans has today announced the immediate cancellation of the 2020 Global Rapid Rugby season.

Long term travel restrictions in place as part of the worldwide fight against COVID-19 provided the Asia Pacific competition no choice this year.

“All of our decisions around Global Rapid Rugby in 2020 have been based on expert health advice; there are global realities and challenges that cannot and should not be ignored or worked around,” Evans explained.

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“We have never been scared of hard work or seemingly impossible challenges, but in the current circumstances feel that our hand has been forced to upgrade our previous Season One suspension to a complete cancellation.  We will continue to work closely with all teams and stakeholders around potential future plans.

“The work that went into the formation of the 2020 home-and-away season was first-class. We showed in the one round that we were able to play, what an exciting game we have created. The immediate future may be full of uncertainty, but the bigger picture is full of exciting opportunities for rugby in the Asia Pacific region.

“I would like to publicly acknowledge and thank everyone involved in what was to be the first full season of Global Rapid Rugby. Hong Kong Rugby Union, China Rugby Football Association, the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union, Rugby Australia, Fiji Rugby, Samoa Rugby Union, Malaysia Rugby Union, Valke Rugby Union and of course Rapid Rugby’s founders Andrew and Nicola Forrest.”

– additional reporting by AAP

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