To help secure the future of the sport, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Provincial Unions have today cancelled all provincial representative rugby tournaments below the Mitre 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup.
The cancellations include the 2020 Mitre 10 Heartland Championship, Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 Tournament, TECT National Sevens Tournament and all Provincial Union representative rugby tournaments, excluding the Mitre 10 Cup and Farah Palmer Cup.
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said rugby had worked together to make these difficult decisions for the best interests of the game.
“We’ve worked together and the Provincial Unions have led the decision making. This is a partnership and I acknowledge them for being willing to have these conversations and make tough decisions,” he said.
“It’s surreal how much this has impacted everyone in just seven days and we’ve needed to act swiftly, decisively and together. We are united in what we want to achieve and that’s to secure the future of rugby. These decisions have all been about ensuring when the time comes our communities can be up and running club, community and school rugby as quickly as possible.”
Robinson said NZR supported the decision led by the Heartland unions to cancel the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship for the 2020 season.
“It’s a blow for the Heartland Unions to lose their much-loved championships. Their top-level teams are the pride of their communities and it was a courageous decision by them in difficult times. The cancellation in 2020 will be a loss for local players and fans. It will no doubt be felt keenly by many.”
Robinson said all the cancellations announced today affect the 2020 season only, and no decisions beyond this year had been made. He added no decisions about the Mitre 10 Cup or Farah Palmer Cup have been made at this stage either.
Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union general manager Aaron Lawton said his organisation was supportive of the decisions to scale back representative rugby in 2020.
“Like many businesses, we are very much focused on survival at the moment due to the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
“It’s really disappointing for those players from our region who would have had an opportunity to pull on the Counties Manukau colours this year. We absolutely understand that.
“But desperate times call for desperate measures and we felt it was important to act quickly. We don’t know when the lockdown will lift or our great game will start again but we will certainly be exploring whether there’s anything we might be able to do for some of our representative teams down the track when hopefully everything returns to normal.”
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