Shortly after the Reds came back from a 17-0 deficit to thrash South Africa’s Bulls 41-17 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, it was confirmed the tournament would be suspended indefinitely after this weekend’s matches.
The decision was largely forced by the New Zealand government announcing strict restrictions on travellers entering the country.
Anyone arriving in New Zealand after Sunday will have to isolate themselves for 14 days to help combat the spread of the potentially lethal virus.
The news will be frustrating to Thorn given his team had largely completed their overseas component for the season and were eyeing off a big finish to their campaign.
“It’s probably a little bit tough for us because we’ve paid our dues this year, we’ve done our three round-the-world tri ps, played Christchurch, down in Canberra, all these sort of things,” the World Cup-winning ex-All Black said.
“We’ve been looking at this comp and we’ve seen real opportunity in front of us … it’d be nice if there was some more footy played, you know, down the track but sport on the weekend doesn’t compare to looking after people, specifically our elderly folk.
“We’ve got to take care of them. Look after them.”
SANZAAR is hopeful of resuming the tournament in coming weeks but that will depend largely on when the New Zealand restrictions are lifted.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was desperate to get himself and his team home before the restrictions kick in and did not discount the idea of the nation’s five franchises playing each other during the suspension.
“The re’s always opportunity in some adversity and there’s potential for opportunities to maybe innovate the competition,” the championship-winning coach said.
For the Sunwolves, the suspension means the loss to the Crusaders could be the team’s final appearance in Super Rugby.
SANZAAR has already announced the Japanese franchise will be axed from the competition in 2021, although chief executive Yuji Watase was confident the team would play on in some capacity next year.
“SANZAAR decided to kick us out from this year but still we’re trying to find a way,” Watase said.
“Even if, like from next year, we cannot play in the Super Rugby we still have to go in some direction to keep running and keep our rugby level in Japan.”
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