The Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Blues and Crusaders in Auckland, New Zealand has been cancelled.
The NZ Government confirmed Friday that Auckland will remain in a Covid-19 alert level 3 lockdown for another 12 days. NZ Rugby has said the highly-anticipated SRA match, scheduled to be played at Eden Park on Sunday afternoon, can't go ahead.
Under alert level 3 people are instructed to stay in their bubble, other than for essential personal movement, and to adhere to physical distancing rules.
NZ Rugby has confirmed the match between the Highlanders and Hurricanes in Dunedin on Saturday will still be played but no fans will be able to attend. Kick-off will now be at the earlier time of 3.05pm.
The earlier start will allow the Hurricanes to charter a flight to fly in and out of Dunedin on the same day, allowing them to limit their public interaction.
No fans will be in attendance at Forsyth Barr Stadium because the region remains under alert level 2, which means gatherings of more than 100 people aren’t permitted.
Earlier Friday the Blues had confirmed on their website the match could only take place if Auckland shifted to alert level 2 or 1. With Eden Park becoming a new coronavirus testing centre on Friday, it seemed inevitable the fixture would be called off.
With the Blues-Crusaders canned, the game has been declared a draw and both teams awarded two points each.
The Crusaders, who have already won the title, have been elevated to 30 points. The Blues now sit second on 24 points but could slip to third place if overtaken by the Hurricanes (21) should they beat the Highlanders.
Cancelling the sold-out Blues-Crusaders match is expected to cost the Blues club hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from lost ticket sales after declaring this week that all 43,000 tickets had been sold.
The Government’s decision to remain at alert level 3 not only denies Blues supporters an opportunity to see whether their team could end their season on a high by beating the Crusaders, who secured the SRA title by beating the Highlanders last weekend, it will ruin their hopes of farewelling recent recruit Beauden Barrett.
Barrett is contracted to represent a Japanese club next season, and will not be available fro the Blues.
The Highlanders had earlier stated that around 15,000 tickets for the game had been sold. They, like the Blues, will now have to refund ticket holders.