A domestic competition involving New Zealand’s five Super Rugby teams is likely to take place if the full Sanzaar championship falls over.
New Zealand Rugby is planning to stage a Kiwi-only competition if Super Rugby is scrapped because of the coronavirus.
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson confirmed it is working on a bespoke domestic league featuring the five New Zealand Super Rugby teams at a time when the sport has ground to a halt globally.
Super Rugby was suspended indefinitely after last weekend’s round and SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos has said if it didn’t resume within five weeks it will be scrapped for 2020 because of scheduling constraints.
Robinson expected details of the Kiwi contingency plan to be revealed this week as the sport seeks a way to create revenue for its broadcaster Sky TV and all of rugby’s stakeholders, as well as provide some entertainment in a barren sport viewing landscape.
“We’ve got 10-12 weeks to look to provide some rugby product for our fans,” he told The Breakdown television show.
“We’ve had some great ideas and feedback not only what it might look like on the field, with some potential innovations in that space, but also a wide range of thinking about how we make the best of the situation to help drive revenue and provide something different in this market, because we know that people are going to be interested.”
The Highlanders won’t be available to play any rugby until April 1 as their players and staff are undergoing self-isolation after arriving home from Argentina on Tuesday.
Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle suggested on Tuesday that a similar domestic event will be considered for Australia’s four Super Rugby teams.
While Robinson proposed a standalone competition, Castle said domestic-only matches could connect with the results of Super Rugby games already played this season.
“That’s what all the SANZAAR nations are working together with their competition managers to see,” Castle said.
“If we can find a competition that makes sense, that links into the games that have already been played (and) potentially gives us an outcome that allows to still play a finals series.
“The travel restrictions mean that cross-border competition doesn’t seem realistic so domestic obviously leads the conversation.”