New Zealand Rugby has announced it is working on contingency plans for the highly-anticipated North vs South clash that is scheduled to be held in Auckland next week.

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Concerns have arisen in recent weeks about the feasibility of the match as a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in New Zealand has forced Auckland to go into level three lockdown until August 26 – just three days before the inter-island derby.

The remainder of the country remains at level two, leading NZR to consider their options to stage the match at an alternate venue.

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In a media release sent out on Monday, the national body confirmed it was looking into the possibility of staging the match at Sky Stadium in Wellington rather than at Auckland’s Eden Park next Saturday.

“With Auckland at alert level three until midnight on Wednesday 26 August, the squads will now assemble in Wellington to prepare for the match,” NZR general manager professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum said.

“New Zealand Rugby is currently working through the government’s normal exemption process to seek approval for the Auckland-based players and management to assemble in Wellington from next Monday.

“A final decision on the venue for the match will be made following the government’s review of COVID-19 levels on Friday.”

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The squads for the North vs South clash will be named on Tuesdayat midday (NZT).

Read the full media release below:

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is continuing to work on contingency plans for the North vs South match, with the squads named for the match to assemble in Wellington to prepare for the game.

NZR General Manager Professional Rugby & Performance Chris Lendrum said NZR was still hoping that the eagerly-anticipated match could be played at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday August 29, but was also making contingency plans to play the match at SKY Stadium in Wellington instead on the same day.

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The squads for the North v South match will be announced at midday tomorrow and were due to assemble in Auckland on Monday next week. 

“With Auckland at Alert Level 3 until midnight on Wednesday 26 August, the squads will now assemble in Wellington to prepare for the match.

“New Zealand Rugby is currently working through the Government’s normal exemption process to seek approval for the Auckland-based players and management to assemble in Wellington from next Monday.

“A final decision on the venue for the match will be made following the Government’s review of Covid-19 levels on Friday,” Lendrum said.

In the event that the match can’t go ahead in Auckland, ticket holders will be refunded.

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