Having already re-arranged the draw for the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific season, more adjustments may need to be made in the coming weeks due to Covid regulations in Western Australia and New Zealand.
When the draw was first released in November, it was expected that free travel would be available between NZ and Australia and that the 12 teams involved would travel regularly between the two countries. However, the advent of the ommicron variant has delayed the reintroduction of a travel bubble between neighbors. At the moment it is possible to fly from New Zealand to most Australian states without having to go into quarantine or isolation, but the opposite is not true.
As such, a revised draw was unveiled in December, with derby matches being played over the first nine rounds before the Trans-Tasman portion of the competition kicks off at the end of April.
While it is still very possible that a travel corridor between New Zealand and Australia exists at that stage of the tournament, there are currently no guarantees. The New Zealand government has not yet confirmed when it expects to reopen free travel from Australia to the country.
If there is still no going through by round 10 of the competition, the Trans-Tasman games may all have to be played in Australia, as was the case for the latter part of the 2020 Tri-Nations and last year’s Rugby. year Championship.
Changes forced upon Super Rugby Pacific have seen players, fans and administrators face another season that may struggle to capture the imagination. #SuperRugbyPacific https://t.co/N9XDObNALU
– RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 7, 2022
New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that even as NZ moves to the most prohibitive level of Covid restrictions, matches will go ahead as scheduled – albeit with no crowds. That lines up with Blues coach Leon MacDonald’s recent comments that he expects his side will have to dig deep into their depths to perform this year.
“We’re positively negative right now, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last in the environment, and we’re ready for that,” MacDonald said. “We have many plans, and again, two years later, we are still talking about the same hitches and speed bumps that lie ahead.
“The depth of our squad is being tested. Individuals have to take a lot of care to try and keep themselves healthy.”
Less impactful but more urgent, however, is the fact that Western Australia has also not confirmed when the state will open its borders to travelers from the rest of Australia. Interstate travel was originally supposed to restart on February 5, but Prime Minister Mark McGowan confirmed this week that would no longer be the case. While it will be possible to travel to the state from that date, all travelers will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Super Rugby Pacific will kick off on February 18th and if the current restrictions in place in WA are still in place as has been telegraphed, it will probably not be possible for the Western Force to host their matches in their home area, as is the case was in 2020 when some of their ‘home’ matches were played in New South Wales and Queensland.
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