Super Rugby matches still up in air

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) are hanging on to hope the final round of Super Rugby Aotearoa can be played this weekend.


The country's shift back up the Covid-19 alert levels until at least midnight Friday has put both matches in serious doubt.

As it stands, Sunday's sold-out Blues-Crusaders match in Auckland could not go ahead, while Saturday's Highlanders-Hurricanes game in Dunedin could but without fans.

NZR general manager for professional rugby & performance Chris Lendrum said all their decision-making would be guided by government advice and they were awaiting the government update on Friday with interest.

Lendrum said they would rather not postpone the matches, even if it meant playing them in empty stadiums.

"Our preference is to play them this week, we want to conclude the competition.

"It's been an outstanding competition, all around on and off the field, and we've got other fixtures and competitions flying off the back of it.

"The seasons pretty jammed up as it is so we're keen to get these games played."

That desire meant NZR were working on a number of contingency plans.

Moving the Blues-Crusaders match out of Auckland if the city stayed in alert level three beyond Friday was considered, but had been ruled out by government.

Playing the Highlanders-Hurricanes match and not the game in Auckland, though, was still on the table.

"Split alert levels adds a different complexion to things," Lendrum said.

"It is possible that we could have a game in Dunedin but not a game in Auckland.

"We'll just see what hand the government deals us. We've been in lockstep with them the whole way through Covid, we trust their advice, we'll follow it and that will guide us."

NZR's decision to continue waiting was in contrast with netball's move to call off all final round ANZ Premiership matches.

Netball New Zealand has declared all matches a draw, but there would be no impact on placings for next week's final series - with the defending champion Central Pulse playing the Mainland Tactix in the grand final.

Rugby was in a similar position with the Crusaders having already won the title, but Lendrum said that hadn't been a factor in their thinking.

"Everybody involved - players, teams, fans - want rugby to go ahead this weekend.

"We've seen the benefits of rugby restarting and what it's done for the mood of the rugby community and the mood of the country as a whole over the last nine weeks, it'd be great to finish that out."

Lendrum said if matches did go ahead without fans, potential ticket refunds would be dealt with by the individual franchises.

No community sport would be possible under alert level three, however it was possible for groups up to 100 under alert level two.