Almost all domestic league teams will return to the field starting next week. Auckland’s ‘problem’ still remains
New Zealand has also been affected by the virus in recent weeks, and this has led to a complete halt to many activities including rugby. Home Play All Blacks Championship matches have been canceled, and all tournaments of every rank and order have been suspended for several weeks now. However, it seems that the solution is being improved, and this is done first of all by the number of infections that seem to be under control.
It was then decided to resume action on Friday 17 September with the NPC, a tournament in which teams will return to the field after more than a month (the last game played in mid-August): the key is to lower the alert level from 4 (the maximum, which has been active across the country). 2 o’clock on Wednesday. However, this is not a rhetoric unique to the whole of New Zealand, given that “only” the Auckland region, the most populous, remains on high alert. Therefore, not only playing but also training is prohibited in Auckland, North Harbor and Manukau counties, while in the rest of the country operations are slowly resuming.
The New Zealand Federation is working to get the NPC back on its feet by seeking to close the tournament with all matches played, thus extending the end of the match itself and not canceling the games. However, there is the problem of the teams around Auckland: “At the moment we cannot leave or move from the Tier 4 areas,” said Steve Lancaster of NZ Rugby “We are working with the sports minister to understand if it is possible to move those three teams out of town, who will play away from home but at least they can take the field.”
So it is hoped for them that there will be a possibility to return to the field by October 1st at the latest, otherwise the situation in the calendar will become very complicated. So, for now, NZ Rugby plans to restart following the original calendar, restoring skipped competitions later in the season, which will arrive at this point at the end of November. Midweek matches have also been opened.
Finally, it’s worth noting that after a year’s hiatus, the Heartland Championship is also back, the tournament representing the second tier of New Zealand rugby after the NPC. So the tournament will start in the coming weeks (it was supposed to start at the end of August) thanks to the fact that there are no teams in the Auckland area.
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