Super Rugby suspended following coronavirus outbreak
CAPE TOWN – Sanzaar have suspended the Super Rugby season following news that New Zealand will quarantine all people entering the country for 14 days.
This weekend's remaining matches will go ahead as planned.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that everyone entering the country from midnight Sunday must self-isolate for 14 days in an effort to contain the outbreak.
The directive will effectively prevent teams from travelling to New Zealand for games in the mainly southern hemisphere competition, which features sides from Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan.
Following a Sanzaar Executive Committee teleconference in response to the announcement by the New Zealand Government, Sanzaar decided that "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”.
The players and managements of the Vodacom Bulls (who are currently in Australia) and Emirates Lions (New Zealand) will return to South Africa.
SANZAAR said it would issue further information on Vodacom Super Rugby 2020 tournament and any potential rescheduled fixtures in the days ahead.