Virus outbreak threatens New Zealand's fan-filled stadiums

Ross Houston
August 14, 2020

Sports events in New Zealand could face new restrictions on having fans in stadiums after the detection of four new cases of COVID-19 in Auckland ended New Zealand's run of 102 days without a case of community transmission.

New Zealand Rugby will await further guidance from the government before making a call on whether this weekend's games will be played, but the Hurricanes have taken matters into their own hands.

Dane Coles will lead the 'Canes if the match goes ahead, with fellow co-captain TJ Perenara not named in their 23-man squad to play the Highlanders. That match is set to be cancelled unless Auckland moves down to Level 2, where crowd restrictions will apply.

The Hurricanes are committed to playing their final round Super Rugby Aotearoa match against the Highlanders.

Currently, the country sits at alert Level 2 which would allow the game to go ahead, albeit likely without a crowd, while Auckland is at Level 3, which would see the Blues v Crusaders clash cancelled.

New Zealand's ANZ Premiership netball competition was also due to have five games this weekend.

He added: "By winning Super Rugby Aotearoa, we become kaitiaki [guardians] of the trophy and it's a trophy that has significance more broadly than just the club".

"Following the match on Sunday, the trophy has accidentally been dropped and incurred some minor damage", Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said in a statement published by New Zealand media.

A win will mean the Hurricanes round out the year by bringing up 200 Super Rugby wins.

"Everyone in New Zealand's had to put up with unusual things and we just got to get on with it as best we can".

The "Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa" trophy features a carved wooden base representing an upturned Maori "waka" canoe with a "mere pounamu" - a ceremonial weapon of Maori chieftains - mounted on top.

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