New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association boss Rob Nichol has revealed the alternative plans for the game in the country have been going on for weeks.
While currently in a waiting game due to the New Zealand’s government strict new travel restrictions, talk has now emerged that a ‘derbies only’ format could be one plan when the Covid-19 picture clears up.
‘Those sorts of things are realistic,’ Nichol told Stuff on Sunday.
‘The first thing is to get through the next few days. The indications are that the government will be meeting early this week and it is a pretty evolving situation.
‘So, to think 16 days ahead and say, “we’re going to put these plans in place” is probably not the best thing to do right now.
‘[But] there are ideas, and I know New Zealand Rugby and Sanzaar have been doing different modelling and different options for the last couple of weeks.’
The threat that franchises could be bankrupted if the season is scrapped entirely is real and so talk of getting any rugby shown by broadcasters is a glimmer of hope.
‘It’s just a bit premature to commit to anything with any certainty at the moment because … We’re not quite sure what the environment is that we’ll be in,’ said Nichol.
‘But once we get some certainty around that I think there’ll be a couple of ideas of what we can look at.’
Accroding to the report, derby games may be played behind closed doors and while ticket revenue will be down, there will at least be some traction with broadcasters. Players have not yet been consulted about this idea.
‘It’s too early to put that on the table for the guys. At the moment the main focus is getting the Highlanders boys home, and getting the Crusaders boys home today and then working out what this week looks like
‘If the government come out with guidelines early in the week then hopefully that will give us a bit more certainty about what we are looking at.’
The players are aware and calm amid the outbreak and the ramifications that filter through the entire economic structure of the game both at home and abroad.
‘It really is secondary in terms of where the players are at,’ Nichol said.
‘We’re all caught up in this but the people we really feel for are the ones who are really affected by it. Effectively it’s a bit of a shutdown of the sports industry There are a lot of people, small businesss, who are associated with that industry.
‘There’s a much wider picture here and I know a lot of the players are thinking about those people and how they are going to be affected through this. The players are acutely aware of what’s going on, both in New Zealand and overseas. They’re pretty calm about where they are at.
‘They are getting good support an advice and they’re OK. There’s a bigger picture at play.’
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