New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson is determined that the Super Rugby Pacific tournament will go ahead in 2022 regardless of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant’s ever-growing threat.
Robinson revealed that a decision on the safety and future of the competition will be made “in the next few days”.
“We would like to get to a situation where we can replicate as closely as possible the original Pacific format,” he told AAP.
“There’s a few moving parts to that and a few different contingencies being worked through… we’re down to having to make a call pretty soon.
“The scenarios that we’re talking about the moment all have an element of trans-Tasman (matches).”
The new Super Rugby Pacific draw was released in November – including new franchises Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika – with a kick-off date set for February 18.
Jacinda Arden’s government complicated things further with its border reopening plan that requires all arrivals to self-isolate for seven days on arrival.
The New Zealand government has repeatedly refused to make exemptions for sport. Still, Robinson remains hopeful, claiming there was “huge amount of work going on with the government” to allow the competition to take place.
Covid-19 has already impacted southern hemisphere rugby, including the last two Rugby Championships.
In 2020, the Super Rugby season was suspended before being split into respective domestic competitions.
2021 saw the South African and Argentinian sides find their own paths, and domestic competitions concluded with a Super Rugby trans-Tasman season.
The NZ government’s hyper-vigilance towards the pandemic and the Omicron variant means trans-Tasman sports may still be a long way from returning.
Covid-19 pummelled NZ Rugby’s finances, tallying a $NZ34.6 million (c.GBP17.7 million) loss last year.
Robinson expects further loss and said: “We’d like to think we get pretty close to breakeven”.
He is still pursuing private equity investment from the US organisation Silver Lake. However, progress is said to be hampered by the players’ association.
The selling of a minority stake in the All Blacks is highly controversial among players and fans.
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