COVID outbreaks in the Blues, Highlanders and Crusaders squads have forced further amendments to the Super Rugby Pacific Round 5 schedule in New Zealand.
Moana Pasifika will now play the Chiefs at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland at 19:05 on Saturday 19 March in what will be the only New Zealand-based Super Rugby Pacific match this weekend (Round 5).
No matches have been canceled and the Super Rugby Pacific tournament and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) remain confident the five postponed matches this season can be rescheduled later in the competition. The original Round 5 schedule would have seen the Highlanders host Moana Pasifika in Dunedin, the Blues play the Crusaders in Christchurch, and the Hurricanes play the Chiefs in Wellington.
The three, round-five matches in Australia will be played as per the tournament match schedule.
NZR Head of Tournaments and Competitions Cameron Good said several factors had factored into the decision to schedule the Moana Pasifika v Gallagher Chiefs match.
“Like many businesses around New Zealand we continue to deal with the disruptions of COVID on our people, and the health of the Blues, Highlanders and Crusaders players and staff was the key consideration in withdrawing those teams from this weekend’s matches.”
“With three teams remaining we had to look at what was the best outcome for the competition and a key consideration was to ensure Moana Pasifika got back on the field again after having three matches postponed through the opening month of the season, which is exciting for the club and their fans. This change also allows Moana Pasifika to catch up on their previously postponed Round 2 match against the Chiefs.”
“This has been a tough call on the Hurricanes who had initially been scheduled to play the Chiefs and I would like to acknowledge the Hurricanes for their understanding and cooperation in putting the competition first.”
“We are looking at the schedule and believe there are opportunities to play the postponed matches without major disruption to the draw and will announce details in due course,” added Good.
The postponed matches requiring rescheduling are Hurricanes v Moana Pasifika from Round 4, Highlanders v Moana Pasifika from Round 5, Hurricanes v Gallagher Chiefs from Round 5, and Crusaders v Blues from Round 5. Moana Pasifika’s Round 1 match against the Blues at Mt Smart Stadium has already been rescheduled for Tuesday 29 March in Round 7.
The Super Rugby Pacific tournament and NZR are also encouraged by the New Zealand Government’s border announcement today that will see an easing of border restrictions. This will allow tournament teams more certainty in terms of traveling between New Zealand and Australia later in the season for cross-border Super Rugby Pacific matches. This includes the Super Round in Melbourne on the weekend of April 22-24.
POSTPONED: Highlanders v Moana Pasifika @ Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
POSTPONED: Hurricanes v Chiefs @ Sky Stadium, Wellington
POSTPONED: Crusaders v Blues @ Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch
To be played:
FRI 18 MAR: Brumbies v Reds @ GIO Stadium, Canberra (19:45)
SAT 19 MAR: Fijian Drua v Western Force @ Leichhardt Oval, Sydney (14:35)
SAT 19 MAR: Moana Pasifika v Chiefs @ Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland (19:05)*
SAT 19 MAR: Waratahs v Melbourne Rebels @ SCG, Sydney (19:45)