Planned domestic competition on hold as government restrictions tighten

Sun, 22/03/2020, 10:33 pm
Beth Newman
by Beth Newman
A planned domestic competition has been put back until May 1. Photo: Walmsley
A planned domestic competition has been put back until May 1. Photo: Walmsley

Rugby Australia have put plans for a domestic competition on hold until at least May 1 after news of tighter government restrictions.

On Sunday night, Australian primer minister Scott Morrison announced plans for a range of businesses and non-essential services to be shut down and encouraged people to avoid non-essential domestic travel.

The competition, set to involved Australia's four Super Rugby franchises and the Western Force, was slated to begin on April 3 but has now been pushed back until at least May 1 because of the new restrictions.

WA will shut down its borders after Tuesday, effectively halting any travel in or out of the state unless arrivals observe two-week quarantine periods.

That news, among the range of restrictions being announced, has forced Rugby AU to put a pin in the domestic tournament for now.

All Australian Super Rugby teams will also stop training for two weeks and then will undergo modified training programs mid-April. 

The May 1 date is in line with Rugby Australia's call last week to push back club and community rugby until at least the first weekend of May as well.

Sunday's announcements had already forced the suspension of the AFL until the end of May while the NRL was still committed to trying to keep its competition going for the time being.

Rugby AU CEO Raelene Castle said in a statement that health and welfare was the key concern when making these calls.

“Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams have made the decision today to suspend the start of the revised competition on the latest guidance from the various Government and Health authorities and our Chief Medical Officer," she said in a statement.

“Our priority is the health and welfare of our athletes and our wider rugby community as we continue to adapt to an unprecedented and constantly-evolving situation for our game and society.

“The decision to postpone the restart of the competition until May 1 is in line with the suspension of all community rugby in Australia and will give us the opportunity to review our position across the whole rugby landscape in a month’s time.

“Our message to the entire rugby community today is to follow the advice of the Government and health authorities. We must do whatever it takes to stop the spread of the virus.

"The spirit of the rugby community is a powerful force, and the only way out of this crisis is to work together and look out for each other.

“While this is having an unprecedented impact on our sport and many other sports, this is bigger than sport and that is why we will continue to put the health and welfare of our people above anything else.”

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