Covid-19 restrictions on gathering sizes didn't dampen the spirits of rugby fans who turned out to Saturday's premier rugby final in Waipū.
More than 250 people gathered in various areas around Caledonian Park to see the home side beat Mid Northern 18-15 after extra time. While alert level 2 restrictions allow gatherings of no more than 100 people, certain events could have more as long as there were no more than 100 people in a defined space.
The field was completely fenced off from the public with groups of spectators congregating in the club's clubrooms, nearby houses and around the fencing.
"It was definitely different, it felt like we were playing in an arena, but the supporters made us feel like there was no fence there," Waipū head coach Marley Mackay said.
"It definitely felt like you weren't playing rugby under normal circumstances."
The premier rugby trophy presentation was held on the field immediately after the game. Both teams returned to their individual changing rooms for showers and there was no aftermatch function involving both teams together.
Covid-19 has plagued winter sport competitions this year. Saturday was just the eighth game for both sides.
Along with the reduced season, Mackay said the hardest part was the effort required to adapt to changing alert levels and cancelled training sessions.
"The game was the easy part, it was getting to that point which was the hard part, just dealing with guys not being able to come to training and going to different levels."
Waipū had five players missing as they live in Auckland and could not travel out of the region which was in alert level 3.
Mid Northern head coach Corey Anderson said he didn't much notice the change Covid-19 made to Saturday's final given the fanfare of the occasion. However, he commended Waipū on making sure the alert level restrictions were adhered to.
While the games cancelled due to Covid-19 had been a blessing for injured players, Anderson said it did prove difficult to handle the disruption throughout the season.
"It's been a bit stop-start, a couple of people have dropped out along the way but they are all keen to come back next year, especially after how the team has gone this year."
Meanwhile, two major changes to travel exemptions for people going in and out of Auckland were confirmed yesterday.
People could now transit through Auckland without stopping in order to travel for work. They must show evidence of the purpose of their travel and their departure point and destination, but an exemption is no longer required.
Existing class exemptions have also been added into the Public Health Response Order to make them more visible and clearer for people.
The Covid-19 website - covid19.govt.nz - provides the most up-to-date list of travel exemption categories and evidence requirements.