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New Zealand Rugby confirms rejigged Super Rugby Pacific schedule

By Sam Smith
Image by Marty Melville / www.photosport.nz

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New Zealand Rugby [NZR] has confirmed that two matches in this week’s round of Super Rugby Pacific have been rescheduled due to implications brought on by Covid-19.

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Those changes will see the Hurricanes match against the Chiefs in Wellington moved from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, while the clash between the Blues and Crusaders in Christchurch has shifted from Sunday afternoon to Saturday night.

The change in scheduling has been made to give the Hurricanes extra time for preparation after the Wellington-based side was forced to postpone its fixture against Moana Pasifika last weekend due to a Covid outbreak within its squad.

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Hurricanes assistant coach Chris Gibbes revealed earlier on Monday that the franchise had requested for the schedule to be altered as players prepare to return to training later this week following an isolation period.

“There’s a fair bit to work out in that space with New Zealand Rugby and Sky, but, from our perspective, having an extra day and having the game on Sunday would be massively beneficial for us,” Gibbes said prior to NZR’s announcement.

“You’ve got to look at player safety and player welfare and with the protocols and the return to play [guidelines], guys need to be able to go through a progression to not only training but the contact side of things.

“Ideally you’d need guys training in smaller groups or by themselves for two-to-three days, and then hopefully we can get a group together on Thursday.

“Depending on what day the game is, we’re preparing for Saturday, but we’d love to have a Sunday game, but as it sits in the draw it’s Saturday, and we’ll get everyone together by Thursday and have a good couple of days training and hit into the Chiefs.”

The rescheduled draw also means a change in kick-off time for the Super Rugby Aupiki matches between the Hurricanes Poua and Matatu, and the Blues Women and Chiefs Manawa.

Both games, which will be played at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on Sunday, have been pushed back by 40 minutes, meaning the Hurricans Poua vs Matatu clash will kick-off at 5:45pm.

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The clash between the Blues Women and Chiefs Manawa, meanwhile, will get underway at 7:45pm.

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