Super Rugby Aotearoa finale in doubt after New Zealand's COVID transmission


Sundays scheduled match between the Blues and Crusaders, the newly-crowned champions, has been canceled because Auckland will be at lockdown Level 3 under which major sports events are prohibited.

New Zealand announced on Tuesday that it was shutting down Auckland after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered, following which the Blues had said Sunday's game could take place only if restrictions were eased.

The Otago Highlanders are due to host the Wellington Hurricanes in Dunedin on Saturday.

Sunday's season-ending game between the Blues and Crusaders at Auckland's 50,000-capacity Eden Park stadium was "officially off", a statement said, after New Zealand extended its lockdown of the city.

As the Highlanders v Hurricanes match on Saturday will be played under Covid Alert Level 2 restrictions, it will, unfortunately, be in an empty stadium.

The State of Union series will resemble the rugby league's State of Origin, while the Super Eight Series will be a four-week tournament involving the top two teams from the Australian, New Zealand, and South African and a team from Japan and South America.

The Christchurch-based Crusaders clinched the title with a round to spare when they beat the Dunedin-based Highlanders last weekend.

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A long journey that started three seasons ago in the Championship. "He's a great coach who works really well". Mr Phillips added: "It's a tough game, but they say dreaming is for free and I'm sure we can do it".

It is believed cancelling the game will also cost the Blues and New Zealand Rugby up to $1 million in lost revenue, as the Herald understands the 43,236 tickets sold for Sunday's match generates gate takings between $800,000 and $1 million, with net profit thought to be around the $450,000 to $500,000 range.

It brings a sobering close to New Zealand's Super Rugby Aotearoa, a domestic stand-in for the cancelled global Super Rugby competition, which had been a rare instance of sport played in front of full houses during the pandemic.

"But we just have to wait until we get the decision from the government on Friday".

The Blues will be in touch with all ticket holders directly in the coming days.

Its vision includes options for either a domestic Super Rugby competition, as is being played now due to the coronavirus pandemic, or a trans-Tasman one from 2021.

"We know that porting broadcast rights have seen some challenging times in both Australia and in other markets around the world", Clarke said. The decision whether to extend the restrictions after Friday will be taken upon a review.

Lendrum said it was too early to determine whether those matches can go ahead.