Brumbies beat Waratahs as Super Rugby heads into hiatus
CANBERRA – The Brumbies beat the New South Waratahs 47-14 Sunday in the last match in Super Rugby before the southern hemisphere tournament is suspended indefinitely because of the coronavirus.
Australia conference leaders the Brumbies held a 21-14 advantage at halftime, then ran away with the match in the second half to claim a bonus point and extend their lead atop the Australia conference.
As players left the field on a fine, sunny day at Canberra Stadium, which had been scrubbed clean after a rugby league match on the previous evening, it was with no idea when they might play their next match in Super Rugby. The tournament is now suspended and at the mercy of geopolitical events.
"It's one of those things you can't control," Brumbies stand-in captain Tom Cusack said. "Every sport across the globe is closing down now and we're no exception.
"It's going to be very interesting to see how the game progresses over the next couple of weeks."
The Waratahs scored first Sunday through captain Rob Simmons and the teams exchanged tries until they were locked together at 14-14 after 26 minutes. A try to Caderyn Neville put the Brumbies ahead at halftime and they rapidly expanded their lead as the Waratahs failed to score a second half point for the sixth time this season.
Solomone Kata added his second try of the match and Joe Powell, Tom Wright and Tom Banks added others as the Brumbies extended their lead in the second half. Now the players face uncertainty about their futures.
SANZAAR, the body that runs Super Rugby, said the tournament would be off for the “foreseeable future” with only seven of 18 rounds of the regular season completed.
The decision was prompted by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement that people entering the country from trips overseas, including returning New Zealand citizens, would have to self-isolate for 14 days from midnight Sunday (1100 GMT). Only travelers from a handful of Pacific Island nations were exempted.
That decision would make the cross-border Super Rugby competition untenable, with the tournament featuring teams from five nations, including five teams from New Zealand. Teams from Australia, Japan, South Africa and Argentina also play in Super Rugby, which runs from January to June. All five countries have confirmed coronavirus cases.
“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," SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said.
“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.”