'Super Round' scrapped in Trans-Tasman competition

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia and New Zealand's Trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition will start as planned from May 14 but organisers have abandoned the "Super Round" which would have had a full round of matches at the same venue in the third week.

Round three will instead revert to regular home-and-away matches with a regional focus, organisers said on Friday.

The Trans-Tasman tournament was confirmed after New Zealand agreed to open its borders to Australia, allowing travellers to skip quarantine upon arrival in New Zealand.

The "travel bubble" opened on Monday.

The Wellington Hurricanes kick off the round when they host Perth-based Western Force at McLean Park in Napier on May 28, with the Canterbury Crusaders travelling to Wollongong to play the New South Wales Waratahs on May 29.

The Auckland Blues host the ACT Brumbies at Eden Park in Auckland and the Waikato Chiefs head to tropical Queensland to take on the Reds in Townsville in the late matches on May 29.

The Otago Highlanders will host the Melbourne Rebels in an afternoon fixture on May 30 at a venue to be determined.

All other fixtures remain as scheduled, organisers said.

Trans-Tasman will be the first international competition between Super Rugby sides since the broader competition, which included South African teams and one side each from Argentina and Japan, was abandoned last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have since held domestic Super Rugby competitions.

Border closures, snap lockdowns and speedy tracing systems have helped Australia and New Zealand keep their COVID-19 numbers relatively low.

"We are grateful to be in a position to lock in the final matches for .... Super Rugby Trans-Tasman and with the travel bubble open we’re all looking forward to welcoming our Australian counterparts to New Zealand next month," said New Zealand Rugby executive Chris Lendrum.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)