Due to circumstances surrounding COVCID-19 SANZAAR believes it has no option but to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby tournament.
Following a SANZAAR Executive Committee (EXCO) teleconference in response to the announcement by the New Zealand Government that all returning travellers will have to self-isolate for 14 days, including Super Rugby players, SANZAAR believes it has no option but to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby tournament at the conclusion of this weekend’s matches for the foreseeable future.
Five New Zealand teams play in the 15-team Super Rugby tournament and SANZAAR completely understands the directive issued by the New Zealand Government given concerns globally over the COVID-19 virus and the primary aim to reduce exposure and spread of the virus.
SANZAR CEO Andy Marinos stated, “the safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of COVID-19 containment."
"We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans, broadcasters and partners but given the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives. We also believe it is time for all those players currently overseas to return home and to be with their families.”
"Our priority is, therefore, to ensure our players are within their homes territories from the end of this weekend. SANZAAR will also remain engaged with its stakeholders and will continue to explore avenues to see if we can keep the rugby product alive within our core markets, with the possibility to be in a position to resume the tournament if at all possible in future weeks. We have currently played seven rounds out of the 18 in the normal regular season”.
Furthermore, in another move on Saturday evening/Sunday morning the Round 7 Jaguares vs Highlanders Super Rugby fixture scheduled to be played at José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires on Saturday 14 March 2020, was cancelled in response to on-going player welfare concerns related to the COVID-19 virus. The decision came following concerns in response to the uncertainty created by the Highlanders Players and Management having to enter self isolation upon return to New Zealand following the New Zealand governments recently announced travel restrictions.
As per SANZAAR Tournament Rules, the decision to cancel a match is made by the SANZAAR Executive Committee following consultation with key stakeholders. Ultimately the decision is made to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants, but to also maintain the integrity of the sport.
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos stated: “SANZAAR does not take this decision lightly, but after consulting widely with key stakeholders, the SANZAAR Executive Committee has taken the necessary step to cancel the scheduled fixture with the players and team management health and welfare paramount. As stated previously while disappointed to be in this position our priority is to ensure the players currently overseas return home healthy and safely to be with their families."
SANZAAR policy states that in the event of a match cancellation under such circumstances, the match will be officially declared a draw and both teams will receive 2 competition points.
UPDATES: Week of 23 March
Following the New Zealand Government’s lifting of the coronavirus alert status to level 3, all rugby in New Zealand will be suspended for the foreseeable future.
SANZAAR, New Zealand Rugby (NZR), New Zealand’s Super Rugby Clubs and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) had been working on ways to progress a revised Super Rugby competition but these plans are now on hold following today’s Government announcement.
All New Zealand teams will cease training, and at this stage there are no decisions on the future of the Investec Super Rugby competition or the All Blacks Tests scheduled for July.
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson says our priority is the health and welfare of our players, management and the wider rugby community at this challenging time.
Rugby Australia has confirmed plans to proceed with a domestic competition as part of SANZAAR’s solution for the remainder of the Super Rugby season have been placed on hold. The remodeled competition, which was in the final stages of approvals, had a planned start date of April 3 but has been suspended until at least May 1 after the Australian Government and various State and Territory Governments introduced further measures to fight the spread of Coronavirus.
All Australian Super Rugby teams have ceased training for an initial two-week period, following which players will begin modified training programs while the competition comes under further review in mid-April.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said , “Our message to the entire Rugby community today is to follow the advice of the Government and health authorities. We must do whatever it takes to stop the spread of the virus. The spirit of the Rugby community is a powerful force, and the only way out of this crisis is to work together and look out for each other. While this is having an unprecedented impact on our sport and many other sports, this is bigger than sport and that is why we will continue to put the health and welfare of our people above anything else.”
South Africa has followed suit as the Government has declared a 21-day lockdown across the country from March 26.