Super Rugby Aotearoa

Disappointment in Pacific regarding Super Rugby snub

New Zealand Rugby have confirmed the 2021 competition will run with just the same five New Zealand teams as this year, with the addition of a one-off final.

The NZR chair, Brent Impey, said none of the Pacific team bids were both competitive on the field and financially sustainable off the field.

"We are not in a position financially - we're running multi-million dollar losses - to subsidise anything, " he said.

"If we've got money it needs to go into our community, it needs to go into our provinces, so I'm sorry we do not have the money to compromise."

Super Rugby Aotearoa back for 2021

New Zealand set up Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2020 for its five professional franchises after the broader Super Rugby championship was abandoned due to Covid-19.

New Zealand Rugby had hoped to include a team from the Pacific islands for next year's tournament and invited expressions of interest from Australia.

However, its chairman Brett Impey said the pandemic had shelved those plans and "forced" the organisation to think domestically again next year.

"The last thing we want is for any team to come in and get smashed," Impey said.

Hurricanes wing Kobus van Wyk handed suspension for dangerous tackle on Brad Weber

The 28-year-old South African was yellow carded by referee James Doleman for picking up and dumping Weber near the end of the first half.

Van Wyk was subsequently cited for his actions after it was alleged that he contravened Law 9.18: A player must not lift an opponent off the ground and drop or drive that player so that their head and/or upper body make contact with the ground.

Following a hearing conducted on Thursday, van Wyk pleaded guilty to the contravention and was given a three-week suspension by the three-person judicial committee.

Hurricanes: 'happy to play'

As it currently stands Saturday's match in Dunedin will go ahead without spectators, but a move to Covid-19 alert level three would likely force it to be called off.

There's nothing riding on the outcome, with the Crusaders having already clinched the Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy, but Hurricanes co-captain Dane Coles has told media they want to play, if they can.

"We had a discussion this morning about if people did feel comfortable or not and everyone's pretty much jumped on board," Coles said.

Super Rugby matches still up in air

  

The country's shift back up the Covid-19 alert levels until at least midnight Friday has put both matches in serious doubt.

As it stands, Sunday's sold-out Blues-Crusaders match in Auckland could not go ahead, while Saturday's Highlanders-Hurricanes game in Dunedin could but without fans.

NZR general manager for professional rugby & performance Chris Lendrum said all their decision-making would be guided by government advice and they were awaiting the government update on Friday with interest.

The Blues make official statement around the New Zealand Government's decision to lockdown Auckland

With the Blues scheduled to host the Crusaders in front of a sellout crowd on Sunday in the final round of Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Blues are awaiting further correspondence.

“The Blues along with fellow Super Rugby Aotearoa partners and NZR are currently assessing the impact of both the Blues-Crusaders and Highlanders-Hurricanes games with the move to Covid-19 Level 3 in Auckland and the rest of the country to Level 2,” a statement read.

“NZR is in close and constant dialogue with Government and we will pass on more information when we have it.

Rugby and Netball hit by Covid-19 restrictions

The government annnonced Tuesday night that Auckland will return to Alert Level 3 at midday Wednesday, following the discovery of four positive cases of Covid-19 in one south Auckland family.

The rest of the country will move into Alert Level 2.

The government said at this stage Alert Level 3 would finish at midnight Friday.

While the Crusaders had already been awarded the title, their game against the Blues at Eden Park on Sunday was a sell out.

Chiefs will be better in 2021

The Chiefs on Saturday slumped to a ninth successive loss, including all eight of their matches in Super Rugby Aotearoa, capped by a 31-18 loss to the Wellington Hurricanes.

Gatland, who returned to New Zealand after 12 years in charge of Wales, is taking a leave of absence to concentrate on the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa next year, with McMillan stepping in as Chiefs coach.

"We're disappointed but we'll learn a heck of a lot from this and will make us stronger as a unit and better going forward," Gatland said after their final match.

Crusaders lift Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa trophy

The three-time defending Super Rugby champions have lifted the Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa trophy in front of their home fans after beating their southern neighbours 32-22 in Christchurch.

The Crusaders scored three unanswered tries in the last 20 minutes, having trailed 22-13 midway through the second-half and 17-13 at halftime.

It's their 11th Super Rugby title in total and ends the title hopes of the Blues and Hurricanes, who can now finish no higher than second.

Hurricanes still in Super Rugby Aotearoa title race

The Hurricanes kept alive their slim chances of winning the title with the bonus-point victory and moved to 21 competition points, three behind the table-topping Crusaders, who play the Highlanders on Sunday.

The Chiefs, who lost all eight of their games in the domestic competition, will now temporarily bid farewell to coach Warren Gatland, who takes a year's absence so he can concentrate on the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa next year.