Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa will be the first professional rugby competition in the world to have fans return en-masse in the Covid-19 era when the competition kicks off in Dunedin on Saturday.
The welcome news for rugby fans comes after the Government confirmed New Zealand will move to Alert Level 1 at midnight tonight lifting all restrictions on mass gatherings including at stadiums.
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said the Government announcement was fantastic news for rugby.
“It is a testament to all New Zealanders that we are in a position to lift restrictions on mass gatherings and it’s a massive boost for Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa,” he said.
“We’re incredibly proud, and grateful, to be the first professional sports competition in the world to be in a position to have our teams play in front of their fans again. It’s going to be a very special and unique competition and it’s fitting that New Zealanders now have a chance to be part of it.”
NZR Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum said the move to Level 1 and the return of crowds meant kick off times would now change for the competition – now 7.05pm for Saturday games and 3.35pm for Sunday games.
“With the return of community sport, we wanted to give our many fans involved in Saturday sport time to finish up their games, get ready to head out, and then across town to our venues. We’re excited to be able to provide some daytime Sunday rugby in 2020.
“With the change to Level 1 our teams can now prepare normally for matches, rather than asking them to fly in and out on match day.”
Sky Stadum, New Zealand Rugby and all five Investec Super Rugby clubs would be encouraging fans to use the QR codes displayed at match venues to enable effective contact tracing, Lendrum said.
Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa
Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa is a 10-week competition involving New Zealand’s five Investec Super Rugby clubs – the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders – playing each other home and away, There will be two matches every weekend at 7.05pm on Saturdays and 3.35pm on Sundays with all matches live and exclusive on Sky Sport 1. This domestic competition was developed with the approval of the Government and in consultation with Sanzaar after the 2020 Investec Super Rugby season was suspended on 15 March due to Covid-19 restrictions.