New Zealand Super Rugby clubs go belly-up

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NZR in talks with gov to increase limits of Super Rugby crowd Image: Super Rugby

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is in discussions with the government to allow crowds to return in a limited capacity to help the struggling Super Rugby franchises and their home grounds.

The ‘1News’ stated that the New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Mark Robinson said on March 3rd that they were looking to get restrictions in place similar to those being used at the ongoing Women’s Cricket World Cup, where 10 per cent capacity is allowed.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is the governing body of rugby union in New Zealand. It was founded in 1892 as the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU), 12 years after the first provincial unions in New Zealand.

The 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup is the 12th edition of the Women’s Cricket World Cup, which got off to a start in New Zealand on March 4th and will run till April 3rd.

Informed Robinson, “We’re having those conversations. The Super Rugby clubs are in a really, truly, challenging financial situation and as a result of that, that impacts on all of New Zealand rugby. That’s something that we continue to make a case for to Government and health authorities.”

The ‘1News’ further stated that after opening the season in the Queenstown COVID-19 bubble, a majority of the Super Rugby teams have returned home to continue their campaigns with the Blues and Hurricanes hosting games at the 50,000-capacity Eden Park in Auckland and the 34,500-capacity Sky Stadium in Wellington, respectively.

However, the teams won’t hear the roar of thousands fans at the round three fixtures due to the current Red setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework, which only allows small pods of up to 100 people in different parts of a designated area such as stands.

Further North, the news isn’t much better for the Blues or Eden Park, with the rugby fortress leaking $500,000 a month in the current restrictions.

Noted Eden Park CEO Nick Sautner, “It’s been a very challenging period for us. We don’t have any revenue streams, our functions business is non-existent and our main field activity is non-existent. We’ve got three Women’s World Cups in the next 18 months – Eden Park doesn’t have the finance to deliver those events.”

COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins did offer some hope though, saying options could become available – “My understanding is that there’s going to be a range of things they do to keep people separated and to keep risk contained. I think that’s something we could well see more of.”

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