Sanzaar and the Australian Rugby union have announced that upcoming Super rugby matches in Argentina and Australia will go ahead but will be played behind closed doors.
In terms of Round 7 matches this weekend the Jaguares and Highlanders at Jose Amalfitani Stadium in Buenos Aires will be played without spectators.
This comes after the mayor of the Government of Buenos Aires City in Argentina has issued a directive with regard to the COVID-19 virus (Coronavirus).
The government has directed that while major sports events may take place in the city as scheduled for the next 30 days there is to be no spectator presence. This has a direct immediate effect on the Round 7 match between the Jaguares and Highlanders at Jose Amalfitani Stadium in Buenos Aires this Saturday (14 March).
Super Rugby CEO, Andy Marinos said, “Super Rugby is an international cross-border competition and with the global outbreak of the coronavirus in recent weeks we always knew that unfortunately at some stage there would be an effect on the tournament. We have been planning for such contingencies and have been cognizant of all government and health authority directives issued within their respective territories.”
“Today we have been informed by the Jaguares and the Argentina Rugby Union that the Round 7 match scheduled in Buenos Aires on Saturday may proceed but without spectators. We have also been informed that the match may be broadcast by our Rights Holder Broadcaster ESPN. We have taken the decision that the match will be played under these restrictions.”
“In recent weeks we have put in place strict medical monitoring of all players through the respective Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) to ensure player welfare is at the forefront of our planning for the continuation of the tournament. Indeed we took the step recently to relocate two matches out of Japan. We have always said that we would follow guidelines issued by health authorities and governments within our stakeholder territories. Super Rugby fully understands the concerns of the Buenos Aires City government.”
“To that end, the SANZAAR Board and tournament management will continue to monitor health authority and government directives on the virus in all of our stakeholder territories. We will also be working with the UAR and Buenos Aires City Government to determine the future requirements around the Jaguares matches in Buenos Aires against the Stormers on 21 March and Rebels on 4 April.”
“Apart from the match in Buenos Aires on Saturday, all other matches will continue as normal for Round 7 (March 13-15),” added Marinos.
Meanwhile Rugby Australia has confirmed that the Super Rugby matches scheduled to be played in Australia this weekend will proceed as scheduled, and that members and fans will be welcome to attend the matches as normal.
As the situation with regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve in the country, the Australian Government today announced that it had moved to a position to advise against organised non-essential gatherings of 500 people or more from Monday, March 16.
The Queensland Reds will host the Bulls (South Africa) at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday night as part of a Super Rugby double-header after the Sunwolves (Japan) play the Crusaders (NZ) in a match that was relocated from Tokyo. Then, on Sunday in Canberra, the Brumbies and NSW Waratahs are set to do battle at GIO Stadium.
Buildcorp Super W matches will also go ahead as scheduled across the weekend with NSW Waratahs Women facing RugbyWA Women on Saturday in Sydney, and Brumbies Women hosting Queensland Reds Women in Sunday’s double-header in the nation’s capital.
In line with the advice from the Government, all Super Rugby and Buildcorp Super W matches in Australia beyond the upcoming round will be played in closed venues until further notice. There are no current plans by Rugby Australia or SANZAAR to cease international travel, however travel advice will be monitored closely over the coming days and weeks.
Rugby Australia, RUPA, and the four Super Rugby teams agreed to the plan on a teleconference this afternoon following the Government’s announcement.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “This is a position that no one in our game wanted to be in, but we have made this decision in line with the Government response to this ongoing global health issue and in the best interests of our players, members and fans.
“The Prime Minister made it clear in his address to the media this afternoon that the Government’s advice is a staged response to this issue and that by Monday the next stage of their response is to advise against non-essential large gatherings.
“We are confident from this advice that there is no significant or imminent health risk to our athletes or fans for the weekend’s matches. At all times, any decision we make is with the health and welfare of those people front of mind.
“As this situation is evolving constantly, we will continue to review our position on a daily basis.”