New Zealand Rugby has today confirmed this weekend’s Farah Palmer Cup and Bunnings Warehouse NPC matches will be postponed after the country moved back into alert level 4 following a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Auckland.
The Counties Power Heat had originally been scheduled to travel to Hamilton on Saturday for their last regular season game against Waikato while the PIC Steelers were due to fly to Nelson for Sunday’s third round NPC clash with Tasman.
However, in light of the return to lockdown across the country, New Zealand Rugby on Wednesday confirmed all scheduled matches this weekend would be postponed.
In the FPC competition, this weekend’s schedule is likely to be added to the end of the regular season, meaning the Counties Power Heat could have a bye next week before playing their Waikato match on Saturday, September 4 providing the alert levels have adjusted and travel throughout the country is not restricted by that time. However, NZR will confirm exact dates of fixtures in the coming days.
In the NPC, the third round schedule is likely to be moved to week 11 – a week after the regular season had been scheduled to finish. This means the PIC Steelers could potentially play Tasman on Sunday, October 17 and their next match (COVID-depending) will now be against Southland on Saturday, August 28 in Invercargill.
“It’s obviously an evolving situation,” Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union CEO Aaron Lawton said.
“At this stage, we are hoping the PIC Steelers will be able to travel next week and take on the Stags in week four of the NPC. But that, of course, will be dependent on what the alert levels are at the time.
“It will be very much a case of wait and see and the same applies to the Counties Power Heat who had been preparing for their last regular season game this weekend.
“The matches are likely to be pushed back to the end of the respective competitions but NZR is yet to confirm that and we will provide an update as soon as possible once the updated fixtures are actually locked in.”
New Zealand Rugby today has also made the decision to cancel all community rugby across the country following the return of COVID-19 in the community.
In the Counties Manukau region, this means all junior rugby this weekend is cancelled while the boys’ and girls’ secondary school finals have also been postponed.
In the representative space, this weekend’s Bayleys B’s match against Taranaki and the Counties Manukau U-19s’ fixture against North Harbour have also been called off.
A decision on when – or if - these matches can be played will be confirmed once the alert levels change in Auckland.
“It’s obviously really disappointing that rugby can’t go ahead this weekend, especially our secondary school finals. But the reality is the health and safety of our participants and community has to come first,” Lawton added.
“We will continue to keep our community in the loop as more information comes to light and at this stage NZR has indicated we will have another briefing on Friday afternoon as the situation develops.”
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