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What next for Super Rugby?
By Raga House | Mon 16 Mar, 2020 13:17

Whether or not Super Rugby returns again in 2020 is the question on many people's lips, but don't expect an answer anytime soon. 

Speaking hours after Sanzaar confirmed the competition was suspended for the "forseeable future" due to New Zealand's strict coronavirus related border policy, Sanzaar board chairman Brent Impey said it was very much up in air. 

"It's far too premature to talk about other options," Impey told Radio Sport.

"The Sanzaar office itself will be looking at competition alternatives. There are 10 weeks to go . . . it's a priority but it would be unrealistic to expect answers to those questions in say 48 hours."

So the 15 Super Rugby franchises can only play a waiting game, after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's stringent new travel restrictions prompted Sanzaar to suspend the competition at the conclusion of round seven. 

The restrictions, which require every one arriving in New Zealand after midnight on Sunday to go into self-isolation for 14 days, will be reviewed in 16 days and have cast a giant cloud over the competition.

The Highlanders are right in the thick of it. Despite their match against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Sunday being canned and declared a draw, they will not return to Dunedin until Tuesday morning. 

Players and management will go into isolation, and the Highlanders can forget about hosting the Lions and Crusaders the coming two weeks. 

The impact of the suspension is wide-ranging and New Zealand Rugby's five Super Rugby sides will be hit in the pocket. 

Thats something the Highlanders know all too well, given their home game against the Crusaders - their biggest earner - was also scrapped last year in the aftermath of the March 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch.

But it goes beyond teams, sponsors and broadcasters. Think caterers, cleaners, security staff. The list goes on. 

"You can go further into people who depend on short-term contracts. It's their lifeblood. This goes to the heart of everything. Rugby is important, Super Rugby is important, but health and safety is far more important," Impey told Radio Sport. 

"The whole eco-system, if you like, needs to be managed fairly carefully."

Impey, also the New Zealand Rugby board chairman, said NZR executives worked through Saturday night and were taking phone calls at 4.30am on Sunday. 

NZR will meet with broadcasting partner Sky TV shortly, but confirmed there are provisions for unforseeable events such as this in broadcasting contracts.

"It's incumbent on all of us, the broadcasters included, to work through the ramifications and come up with potential alternatives," Impey told Radio Sport.

"The primary responsibility is to mitigate the damage and that's what we will be trying to do. Sky is a vital partner of ours and that will happen in the next few hours." 

Until further word lands, the Crusaders will go into the hiatus at the top of the New Zealand conference on 23 points, one clear of the Blues, who have played an extra match. 

-Stuff Rugby

Kenya Cup   Super Rugby  
Raga House
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