The CEOs of the four New Zealand franchises who were set to play in the last round of Super Rugby Aotearoa this weekend have responded after one of the two games was called off.
The match between the Blues and Crusaders, which was due to be played at Eden Park on Sunday, has officially been called off following the New Zealand government’s latest Covid-19 announcement that Auckland will remain at Level 3 for 12 days while the rest of the country will remain at Level 2 for the same period.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s Highlanders-Hurricanes game at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium will be played in front of no crowds and at an earlier time.
In a statement, Blues CEO Andrew Hore said while the news is disappointing, his franchise is thankful that they got to play for nine weeks before Covid-19 pandemic resurfaced in New Zealand.
‘Ten weeks ago we never thought we’d even have a competition, let alone one with fans. But instead we got nine weeks of incredible rugby, with three amazing home games and massive crowds. While this news is disappointing, we need to take a step back and be grateful for what we got, what it meant to our players, our sponsors and, most importantly, to our fans.’
On behalf of the Crusaders, CEO Colin Mansbridge said team’s loyal fans deserved one last match, but moved to thank them for their support throughout the season.
‘Super Rugby Aotearoa has been a fantastic display of unity and togetherness for all New Zealanders. While it would have been fitting to finish our campaign in front of a full house at Eden Park, I think the rugby community can be incredibly proud of what we have collectively achieved over the last ten weeks, and will understand that this decision has been made in the best interests of New Zealanders.
‘On behalf of the Crusaders, I want to thank all of our fans for their incredible support throughout the 2020 season.’
On his part, Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said he is happy that their match against the Hurricanes will go on, but the mood within the camp has been dampened because the game will be played in an empty stadium.
‘We are naturally disappointed that at Alert Level 2 none of our passionate supporters will be able to attend. They have played a massive part in making Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa such a fantastic competition and we know the players will certainly miss that support in the stands when they play on Saturday afternoon.’
Avan Lee, CEO of the Hurricanes explained that they are just excited that the game will be allowed to be played.
‘It’s great that the game will go ahead. We have prepared for a number of scenarios this week but health and safety for staff and players will continue to be our focus.’
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