As the 2022 season kicks off, Mother Nature is exerting her influence on rugby in more ways than one.
Both the Crusaders and the Blues have had to change their game arrangements for the season.
On Friday, the Blues announced that the effects of a hot summer had resulted in the cancellation of their pre-season game with the Hurricanes at Warkworth on February 5.
The game will take place at Onewa Domain in Takapuna.
Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said: “We had checked the ground before Christmas but it has deteriorated due to the hot summer conditions and there is too much risk for a professional Super Rugby match.
“It was an important and fun day, but the health and well-being of our players is paramount. We are extremely disappointed for everyone involved because so much planning has gone into this.”
And the Crusaders have announced, after the government put the red lights on Sunday in its Covid-19 Omicron variant policy, that it was canceling its pre-season game with the Hurricanes in Blenheim, scheduled for February 11.
Crusaders’ chief executive Colin Mansbridge said the cost of hosting the game in a regional location combined with the Omicron setting made it unsustainable now.
“We need to plan logistics and provide assurance to a number of key stakeholders around our events, and do everything we can to minimize the financial risk to our club and the local partners who will deliver and support the event,” he said. said.
The game will take place behind closed doors in Christchurch.
“It is always a highlight of our pre-season to connect with fans in parts of the Crusaders region where we don’t normally play. This news will be especially disappointing for the people of Blenheim who were looking forward to seeing the first Super Rugby match played at Lansdowne Park since 2016,” he said.
While Covid-19 has nature’s most ongoing impact on rugby and other sports, disruptions have always been a part of sport.
Perhaps the most important in New Zealand’s rugby history, before the Covid epidemic in 1967, when a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in England forced Ireland to close its border to protect its agricultural sector.
That denied the undefeated All Blacks side of Brian Lochore the chance to win New Zealand’s first Grand Slam in Great Britain and Ireland. The squad also took a test win over France, which could have made a winning streak of five tests an even more impressive achievement.
Mother Nature also had an impact on the Crusaders in 2011 when the Christchurch earthquakes rendered their home venue in Lancaster Park unplayable and also caused the transfer of Rugby World Cup matches from the city.