17 Sep 2021

Black Sticks pull out of international tournaments

1:55 pm on 17 September 2021

New Zealand hockey has withdrawn its teams from all international competition until at least June next year because of ongoing travel restrictions around Covid-19.

It means both the Black Sticks men's and women's teams won't compete in next year's Hockey Pro League.

Gemma McCaw of the Black Sticks in a huddle during the FIH Pro League of Hockey.

The New Zealand women's side competing at the 2020 Pro League in Argentina. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"The current COVID-19 situation and the unlikelihood of any change to travel restrictions in the near future, combined with health and wellbeing considerations, mean it is just not possible to participate in these events," said Hockey NZ chief executive Anthony Crummy.

It also impacts the New Zealand under 21 sides who had world cups in India (men) and South Africa (women), which were to be held in November and December.

Australia has also withdrawn from international play.

Season 3 of the Hockey Pro League would have seen New Zealand play host to India, China and the Netherlands in February before both Blacks Sticks teams headed away to the Americas and Europe to play a number of top-ranked nations in April and May.

However, it was agreed by all participating nations and the sports international governing body the FIH that due to ongoing travel restrictions, it was simply not possible for teams to travel to and from New Zealand to participate.

The withdrawal from international play will hurt the Black Sticks as they buildup to July's World Cups in Spain and the Netherland and Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

"We have been working closely with Hockey Australia... and there is certainly a strong intent from both parties to facilitate trans-Tasman opportunities alongside domestic programmes through the back half of 2021 and into 2022."

New Zealand is due to host the fourth edition of the Hockey Pro League which is due to start in November 2022.