Super Rugby: New Zealand teams to play domestic series from 13 June

New Zealand and Blues back Beauden Barrett has been doing kicking practice in isolation

New Zealand’s Super Rugby mini-series will begin on 13 June after the government confirmed it would lower its coronavirus alert level from Thursday.

Lowering the level from three to two means professional sport can resume behind closed doors.

New Zealand is the first major rugby nation to announce a restart to competition during the pandemic.

“It’s fantastic news for the game right across the country,” New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said.

“It’s been a challenging time right around the country so if this acts in any way to provide leadership and hope and some inspiration to Kiwis that are doing it tough, it will be fantastic.

“I think a lot of people around the world are obviously watching us and being in touch around how we’re approaching it, not only for New Zealand but right around the sporting world. So it’s critical we do it well.”

New Zealand has recorded under 1,500 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths.

The country’s five Super Rugby teams – Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders – will play each other home and away over 10 weeks, with two matches every weekend in the ‘Super Rugby Aotearoa’ tournament.

Teams will use chartered planes to travel on match days and players will be checked daily for coronavirus symptoms.

The wider Super Rugby tournament – which includes teams from Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan – was suspended in March and there are no current plans for it to resume.

A decision over the All Blacks’ scheduled home Tests in July against Wales and Scotland is expected within the next two weeks and New Zealand Rugby is yet to announce arrangements for the resumption of women’s rugby.

BBC News

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