Due to circumstances surrounding COVCID-19 SANZAAR has suspended the 'regular' 2020 Super Rugby season - however reformatted tournaments will be played within member countries once government restrictions allow it.
First to kick-off will be New Zealand on June 13. It is hoped Australia will follow in July with South Africa also looking at plans for a domestic tournament when government restrictions allow it.
Resumption of Super Rugby
Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa will kick off on June 13 following the announcement that the country will move to COVID-19 alert level two on Thursday May 14.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has confirmed that the domestic form of Super Rugby involving the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders – known as Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa – will start on Saturday 13 June, allowing players four weeks to adequately prepare with contact training. Teams returned to training on Monday 18 May.
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.
The match schedule for the competition has also been announced. In the opening weekend, the Highlanders will play the Chiefs in Dunedin on Saturday 13 June, with the Blues playing the Hurricanes in Auckland the following day. All matches will be televised.
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said he was delighted for fans that they would have top-quality rugby on their screens in just over a month. The thought of five world-class Kiwi teams battling it out in 20 matches over 10 weeks should put a smile back on the faces of many people. I know our players are excited and I’m sure rugby fans will be as well.”
Robinson said they always knew they had to take the Government’s lead on when it was safe for rugby to return, and now it was critical the sport did everything to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19.
“Medical and operational staff across NZR, the Players’ Association and the clubs have been working together to ensure we have detailed plans in place to protect the health and safety of everyone involved.”
NZR Medical Manager Karen Rasmussen said a set of protocols for playing professional rugby at level two had been developed and will be endorsed by the Government.
She said the protocols include daily symptom and temperature checks for players, team management and other officials involved in the competition, as well as stringent hygiene and cleaning, contact tracing practices, and asking anyone who feels unwell to stay away, self-isolate and get tested.
“A major factor will be ensuring we control who enters the team bubbles and that we have necessary measures in place to mitigate against any risk to the health of all team members, as well as the health of their families and the wider community,” said Rasmussen.
The teams will also fly in and out on match days by charter flights, with the earlier kick off times allowing teams time to return to their home base after the games.
Click HERE for the match schedule.
Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa competition format
Rugby Australia has also confirmed plans to proceed with a domestic competition as part of SANZAAR’s solution for the remainder of the Super Rugby season. The remodelled domestic competition, which is in the final stages of approvals, presently has a planned start date of early July. Further details will be announced in due course.
It is hoped that Australian Super Rugby teams will start training in mid-May.
Former Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels Chief Executive, Rob Clarke has today been appointed as interim CEO of Rugby Australia. Clarke returns to Rugby Australia following two previous stints as Chief Operating Officer, working under former Chief Executives Gary Flowers and Bill Pulver.
A former Australian Schoolboys Rugby representative, Clarke stepped out of rugby administration in mid-2017 after a decade serving in various senior leadership roles across the game, and has since been running a consultancy business. Clarke said he has no intentions of pursuing the role on a permanent basis but was honoured to be approached to lead the organisation for an interim period while it continues to address the COVID-19 crisis.
South Africa - the country is currently in lockdown and South Africa Rugby is working with SANZAAR on a potential tournament once restrictions are lifted.
Sunwolves/Jaguares - SANZAAR continues to work with the teams and is monitoring government restrictions across all the Super Rugby territories to understand what may be possible to include these teams if restrictions on travel were to allow it.
The Rugby Championship - SANZAAR is working with the National Unions of Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa to see what may be possible in terms of a tournament later in the year. Information on TRC 2020 will be communicated once a suitable timeframe and solution has been agreed.