Bay of Plenty Rugby say they are considering a significantly different approach to delivering the senior club competition when the season gets underway.
Bay of Plenty Rugby chief executive Mike Rogers said the union was partnering with clubs and schools to consider a range of ways the sport might look like when lockdown ends and rugby returns.
Rogers said the Bay of Plenty covered multiple sub-regions, and if travel restrictions remained in place, scenarios could include forgoing the Baywide competition and replacing with a return to sub-region competitions in Central, Western and Eastern Bay of Plenty.
"We have really good people representing our stakeholders on senior club, secondary school and junior club committees who are doing some great work in preparing for a return to play.
"We need to model a whole lot of options. With the restrictions or limitations that may be placed on us, we may need to deliver a different format of rugby.
"So, we've got to be open to that. If it has to be more regionalised initially, we don't think it's a bad thing, as long as we've got rugby out there for our community and our clubs can operate," Rogers said.
This follows New Zealand Rugby's recent announcement that they will continue to monitor the Government's Covid-19 updates and Alert Level changes with a view to how they will impact club, school and community rugby.
While the Government's decision to move to Covid-19 alert level 3 is a positive step, Rogers believed the country needed to remain vigilant in the fight against the global pandemic.
"Under Covid-19 alert level 3 all club, school and community rugby remain postponed. This postponement includes trainings, workshops and the closure of rugby clubs.
"We know people are eager to be back on the field, but the well-being of our players, coaches, referees, volunteers, supporters and our wider community is the top priority."
Rogers said, until the lockdown restrictions were lifted, the true impact of Covid-19 on local sport would not be known. With the regional unemployment rates likely to become higher, sports may not be a priority.
"So first and foremost, I think our clubs are aware that our people and our communities are going to have other priorities. So, we need to be respectful of those situations. But also, we know the importance of sport in terms of health and wellbeing and connecting our communities."
New Zealand Rugby continued to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Sport New Zealand on Return to Rugby protocols for the 2020 season.
Presently they are working through what rugby activity can occur under Alert Level 2 and will provide more guidance on this as soon as possible.
Rogers said for a return to rugby, Bay Rugby would take its lead from the Ministry of Health and New Zealand Rugby in determining when Covid-19 alert levels are once again at a safe level for sport.
"This is a challenging time for everyone and it's important to keep in touch with your teammates, whānau and loved ones."
Rogers advice to clubs and communities was to keep in touch with players and families. As they continued to wait for the season to begin and they can all hit the ground running when the restrictions allow them back on the field.