Senior club rugby to go ahead if Auckland moves to alert level 2

Senior club rugby in the Counties Manukau region will go ahead this Saturday if the Government reduces the COVID-19 alert level in Auckland from 3 to 2 at midnight on Friday.

Following reported cases of community transmission in Auckland on Wednesday night, the city has moved back to a COVID level 3 lockdown while the rest of the country is back in level 2.

Under level 3, rugby cannot go ahead. However, under level 2, rugby can go ahead as long as strict COVID-19 protocols regarding crowd control, hygiene measures and contact tracing are in place.

While a decision has already been made to call off this weekend’s secondary schools and junior club rugby – a decision that will stand regardless of what alert level Auckland is in on Saturday – there is still a chance senior club rugby matches will take place.

The CMRFU’s Council of Delegates met on Thursday night and were aligned in their support for senior rugby to go ahead if Auckland moves back to level 2.

However, it was agreed that due to the limits of 100 people in any public gathering, spectators will be asked to stay away this weekend.

All clubs who are set to host senior rugby fixtures are confident they will be able to adhere to the revised COVID protocols released yesterday by New Zealand Rugby.

“It’s disappointing that secondary schools and junior rugby won’t go ahead this weekend,” CMRFU Rugby & Operations Manager Dale Tucker said.

“But that decision was made due to the difficulties in implementing the protocols for a significant number of clubs and schools. Obviously the safety of our participants was also paramount.

“As for senior rugby, our games are well spread out across the regions and the feedback from our clubs set to host matches is that they are confident the environment will be safe for all players.”

The decision for senior club rugby to proceed under a level 2 scenario in Auckland, albeit without crowds and under strict safety conditions, means the under-21s final between Patumahoe and Manurewa is set to go ahead.

The game is scheduled to kick off at Patumahoe on Saturday at 1pm and security personnel will be present to ensure there are no spectators.

“Obviously having no spectators is pretty disappointing – especially for a final,” Tucker added.

“But the safety of our people comes first. The clubs and players want to play and the guidelines are in place for a reason.

“We’ll now be crossing our fingers and hoping we get to at least level 2 by Saturday.”

The Government is expected to provide an update at 5:30pm on Friday as to whether Auckland will remain at alert level 3.

If the current restrictions continue, all rugby in the Counties Manukau region will be cancelled. For clarity, this includes any games involving Waikato-based teams regardless of what their alert level is come Saturday.

Further information will be shared with the rugby community as it comes to light.