New Zealand Rugby has postponed all club and community rugby until April 18 to combat coronavirus.

The decision is effective immediately.

"The postponement includes all rugby matches," said a statement from New Zealand Rugby. "Non-contact training activities can continue at least in the short term while we continue to monitor the situation with the Ministry of Health.

"All team-based activity will be adapted to comply with the limits the ministry has set. This includes minimising person-to-person contact and maintaining hygiene standards including not sharing drink bottles, washing hands and regularly cleaning rugby equipment.

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"It is a difficult decision for our organisation to make but it is important that we do this in the interests of the health of all rugby participants.

Banner match between Whakarewarewa and Ngongotaha at Puarenga Park. Photo / Ben Fraser.
Banner match between Whakarewarewa and Ngongotaha at Puarenga Park. Photo / Ben Fraser.

"The wellbeing of our players, coaches, referees, volunteers, supporters and the wider New Zealand community is our top priority. And, while this will be disappointing for many, postponing rugby for the time being is in everyone's best interests.

"Rugby plays an important role in New Zealand communities and at this time of uncertainty the postponement of rugby matches allows everyone to pause, and take care of themselves and their whanau. It also gives the provincial unions and local competition organisers the opportunity to regroup, reschedule and determine how they can deliver meaningful competition when rugby resumes.

"School rugby and in most cases junior club rugby competitions start in early May and are therefore unaffected by the postponement at this stage.

"Given the situation with Covid-19 is constantly changing we continue to ask everyone involved in rugby to support one another and follow the official government guidelines, and we will also be reviewing activity daily bases on this advice."