• NZ’s North vs South to go ahead in Wellington

    New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that the North vs South match will be staged on 5 September in an empty stadium in Wellington instead of Auckland.

    The news follows the New Zealand government’s announcement this week on Covid-19 alert levels, with Auckland remaining at level 3 until this Sunday night while Wellington and the rest of the country will stay at level 2 until Sunday, 6 September.

    Under level 2 guidelines, the North v South match will have to be played with no crowd in attendance.

    New Zealand Rugby had already postponed the game last week after it was unable to get permission for the 14 Auckland-based players to leave the city to prepare for the match.

    ‘We’re delighted that the match can go ahead in Wellington, but obviously it’s a shame that it’ll have to be played without fans in the stands,’ NZR general manager professional rugby & performance Chris Lendrum said.

    ‘That said, we’re fully supportive and understanding of the government’s health and safety recommendations regarding Covid-19.’

    Fans who bought tickets to the match – originally scheduled for Eden Park on 29 August – will be refunded via ticketing agency Ticketmaster.

    ‘We feel for the Auckland fans who were set to fill Eden Park in their tens of thousands,’ Lendrum added. ‘If we have that same response from fans watching the match on TV, then it will be a huge audience tuning in on Sky.’

    The North and South squads will assemble in Wellington on Monday to prepare for the match.

    Meanwhile, the Farah Palmer Cup and Mitre 10 Cup competitions will go ahead as scheduled, with the Farah Palmer Cup kicking off on Saturday, 5 September and the Mitre 10 Cup the following weekend.