Super Rugby bosses look at back-up plans
Super Rugby Pacific organisers are considering contingency plans in the wake of the New Zealand government’s latest announcement on travel restrictions.
Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos saying it’s “disappointing” a third straight season is set to be impacted by COVID-19 complications but is confident they will find a workable solution.
Melbourne Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson is also hopeful they can find a way to save the Super Round – round two in late February – when Melbourne was due to host all teams with three double headers at AAMI Park over three days.
With new teams Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika joining an expanded competition, Marinos said the Kiwi announcement had dashed hopes the new-look league could have some “clear air”.
New Zealand declared this week that its border would remain closed to non-citizens until April 30 as it conducts a cautious reopening following its vaccination campaign.
“It would have been nice for us to have gone ahead and planned the season that we have without having contingencies,” Marinos said.
“We’ve got contingencies, we’re going to have to start looking at them and try to understand how we can fit that into whatever advice we get out of the New Zealand government.
“It’s just disappointing – we certainly hoped that we were going to have some clear air going into 2022, but we’ll adjust and we’ll make it work.”
Marinos said the back-up plans included shuffling the draw to back-end the trans-Tasman fixtures or playing the whole competition in Australia.
Stephenson is part of the newly-formed Super Rugby Pacific competition committee which deals with operational matters and will meet for the first time on Monday.
After the Rebels had to spend most of the last two years out of Victoria due to COVID, he felt there was still time before they had to close the door on Super Round.
“It’s three months away, and as we know, in COVID times what we did three weeks ago let alone three months is chalk and cheese,” he told AAP.
“I’m still still certainly very hopeful … I would be bitterly disappointed if that didn’t go ahead or the draw had to be changed.”