7 May 2020

Professional sport allowed under Alert Level Two

2:19 pm on 7 May 2020

Professional sport has been given the go ahead to resume under Alert Level Two.

Chiefs hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho


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But just when Super rugby or netball's ANZ premiership returns is unknown as the government will decide on Monday whether the country will shift from level three to two.

Under level two rules though spectators will not be allowed at games.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) confirmed there will be a New Zealand Super Rugby competition involving the five franchises and it will be played over ten weeks, two games each weekend and 20 matches in total.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said in the best case scenario the competition would start in June.

He said the players would need three to four weeks to adequately prepare with contact training before matches could commence.

"For our fans, our players and everyone involved... we are thrilled that the Sports Minister has given the green light for professional sport to resume at level two," Robinson said.

"Both netball and rugby have been working closely with government agencies on what training and playing at level two could look like."

A working group made up of players, Super Rugby clubs, provincial unions, the players association and New Zealand rugby had considered all the possible competition options and timings, he said.

Details of the Mitre 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup competitions are still being worked through while a decision on the All Blacks series in July against Wales and Scotland will be made in the next fortnight.

Plans to prepare for the return of club rugby would begin when level two comes into force, Robinson said.

"This is an encouraging step for all our thousands of players, coaches, referees and volunteers who've been missing their weekend footy over the past couple of months. We look forward to being back on the grass when we're cleared to do so."

Netball New Zealand chief executive Jennie Wyllie said "they were delighted to be given permission" to resume and "the focus turns to ensuring we have a safe environment for that to happen."

Wyllie said the key priority remained the safety of all those involved in the competition which meant ensuring that systems were in place to implement the public health measures, including contact tracing and hygiene requirements.

Stars netball captain Grace Kara.

Northern Stars captain Grace Kara in action in the ANZ Premiership. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

She said there will have to be some modifications for training, play and competition and they are working through how they will be put into place.

Wyllie said they would confirm a start date for the ANZ Premiership when the country moves to Alert Level 2.

Just one full round was played in March, including the match between the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and the Southern Steel played in front of an empty stadium, before the country went into lockdown.

Plans to prepare for the return of community rugby would begin in earnest when Covid-19 Alert Level 2 begins, following guidance about organised sport from Sport New Zealand today.