It’s been a minute, but professional rugby players in New Zealand are returning to training tomorrow (Monday) ahead of a return to play in June. Last week New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that Super Rugby Aotearoa featuring the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders will start on June 13, allowing players four weeks to adequately prepare with contact training.

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The competition will see the five Super Rugby clubs playing each other home and away over 10 weeks, with two matches every weekend at 5.05pm on Saturdays and 3.05pm on Sundays. Matches will be played in closed stadiums until Government advises an approach to managing mass gatherings in controlled venues that will allow fans to return.

Crusaders will return to training at Rugby Park, but said no media are allowed.

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Amateur rugby clubs around the country can start a three-stage approach to getting back on the grass with training potentially beginning later this month, albeit with certain hygiene and distancing measures in place during COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

“I know our rugby community is very keen to be back out on the grass, but we’re being very cautious. We must get it right, and get it right the first time. The health and safety of our community is paramount,” said NZR Head of Participation Steve Lancaster. “We’re hopeful the 10 person per gathering rule will be increased on 25 May, and when it is, organised training can begin. In the meantime, we encourage participants to register for rugby and start preparing to return to training and playing.”

New Zealand is leading the world when it comes containing COVID-19. The island nation have effectively eradicated the virus and are lockdown measures are being eased across the country. Coronavirus has infected more than 4.6 million people across the world and killed over 311,000, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

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