Rugby Australia has postponed the domestic competition it’s planning to replace Super Rugby following the government’s latest restrictions to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
RA initially planned to start the remodelled competition involving the four Australian Super Rugby teams plus the Western Force on April 3, but now says it won’t begin until at least May 1.
All Australian Super Rugby teams have ceased training for an initial two-week period, after which players will begin modified programs while the competition comes under further review in mid-April.
SANZAAR, suspended the 18-round Super Rugby season at the completion of Round 7 last week, following travel restrictions imposed by the New Zealand and Australian Governments.
RA chief executive Raelene Castle last week said any ongoing restrictions will place extreme pressure on their finances.
Needing to find content for their broadcast partners, RA last Friday revealed plans for a five-team round-robin domestic competition.
But on Monday, Castle said the game’s stakeholders were united behind the suspension of the competition.
“Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams have made the decision today to suspend the start of the revised competition on the latest guidance from the various Government and Health authorities and our chief medical officer,” Castle said in a statement on Monday morning.
“Our priority is the health and welfare of our athletes and our wider Rugby community as we continue to adapt to an unprecedented and constantly-evolving situation for our game and society.
“The decision to postpone the restart of the competition until May 1 is in line with the suspension of all community Rugby in Australia and will give us the opportunity to review our position across the whole Rugby landscape in a month’s time.
“Our message to the entire Rugby community today is to follow the advice of the Government and health authorities.
“We must do whatever it takes to stop the spread of the virus.
“The spirit of the Rugby community is a powerful force, and the only way out of this crisis is to work together and look out for each other.
“While this is having an unprecedented impact on our sport and many other sports, this is bigger than sport and that is why we will continue to put the health and welfare of our people above anything else.”