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Kiwi Super Rugby to return as Wales chief calls for PRO14 clarity


The Super League will be back next month

The Super League will be back next month

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The Super League will be back next month

The rugby season has been handed a huge boost after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced plans to press ahead with a domestic competition as early as next month.

Plans are well underway for New Zealand's five Super Rugby teams to play in what has been dubbed 'Super Rugby Aotearoa'.

The tournament would see reigning southern hemisphere champions The Crusaders, as well as the Blues, Chiefs, Highlanders and Hurricanes play each other home and away, in behind closed doors games.

The New Zealand government are preparing to ease Covid-19 restrictions having had a firm grip over the coronavirus throughout the current pandemic.

All eyes in this part of the world will be on the Kiwis as they look to lead to way in terms of resuming rugby.

The Irish provinces remain in the dark as to when the PRO14 may return, but Wales' chief executive Martyn Phillips has called on tournament organisers to make a decision either way by next month.

If New Zealand's domestic competition proves to be a success, it will likely prompt other unions such as the IRFU to follow suit, as long as government guidelines are adhered to.

"For our fans, our players and everyone involved in Investec Super Rugby, we are thrilled that the Sports Minister has given the green light for professional sport to resume at level two," NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.

"Both netball and rugby have been working closely with Government agencies on what training and playing at level two could look like, and we are incredibly grateful for their support.

"As soon as the country announces what date we move to alert level two, we will be able to confirm what date Investec Super Rugby will kick off."

The five teams are set to play each other home and away over ten weeks, with two matches every weekend, and while the games would be behind closed doors, fans around the world will be able to tune in to see some of the sport's best players face off against each other.

"We're delighted for our fans that in a best-case scenario we will have top-quality rugby back on our screens next month," Robinson continued.

"I know the players would prefer to be playing in front of our fans, but the health and safety of Kiwis must come first.

"While we want to see our game up and running as soon as possible, we won't make decisions that will put anyone at risk. We have always said we will take the Government's lead on when it is safe to return."

Meanwhile, Wales chief Phillips has urged the PRO14 to provide its clubs with some clarity about what the plans are moving forward.

Tournament organisers are committed to completing the season in some manner, despite calls for unbeaten Leinster to be handed the title.

"I think in the next month that'll come to a head," Phillips said.

"There comes a point at which... do you just need to write off the season, and try to start the next one as well as you can?

"You keep all your options open until you can't any more, and then there's a point at which the season's gone.

"If you do get back to playing, do you play (Welsh) inter-regional games first, inter-provincial games in Ireland? It looks to me as though that is the first port of call.

"We have been talking a lot about the international game - but equally in particular the regional game is important, and players do need to play at some point and coaches need to see them back in their environments.

"They are finely tuned athletes and need to play but the safety side is always going to trump (other factors)."

Online Editors