New Zealand Rugby have drawn up an emergency plan for a replacement competition to start next month if Super Rugby is cancelled.

The competition is currently suspended as a result of the coronavirus and resulting travel restrictions which would make it impossible for the Super Rugby teams, which come from five countries, to complete their schedule.

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There is a significant chance that the competition could be scrapped altogether, which has left NZ Rugby making contingency plans.

Blues Sam Nock during the Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Lions, held at Eden Park. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
Blues Sam Nock during the Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Lions, held at Eden Park. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

One News has reported that NZR have created plans for their own 10-week competition, which would consist entirely of New Zealand teams, playing their games behind closed doors.

The teams would face each other twice, with two byes, and All Blacks would not be rested, given they would have already had a break due to the Super Rugby suspension.

The new competition – if it comes into being – would reportedly begin when the Highlanders' self-isolation period ends in two weeks.

On Sunday, Sanzaar chairman Brent Impey said suspending the Super Rugby competition was the only decision to make, considering the circumstances after the New Zealand Government declared that every person arriving in the country would need to self-isolate for 14 days in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

"The first priority is safety," Impey told Jim Kayes on Radio Sport. "The safety of our players, referees and fans so that's what we focused on. In the time frames we've had, considering alternatives wasn't really an option. If you take two of our teams for example, the Crusaders we can get back today from the Gold Coast, they can get through, but the Highlanders on the other hand – their match with the Jaguares got cancelled and they cannot get back before the deadline tonight. So the Highlanders fall within the Government's isolation requirements.

There are 10 weeks to go in the competition, but Impey said it would unrealistic to expect answers about the future within the next 48 hours.

"The whole ecosystem – broadcasters, stakeholders, sponsors – needs to be managed fairly carefully. It's an absolute priority we're just not in a position to give answers."

Impey said the Sanzaar team had been working round the clock over the past 24 hours to sort the logistics of the unfolding nightmare scenario.


"Our broadcasters are our partners in this," Impey said. "New Zealand Rugby will be meeting with Sky very early in the coming week as we consider alternatives, but there are provisions in these broadcasting contracts when events such as this happen and we need to work through the ramifications and come up with alternatives.

"The primary responsibility is to mitigate the damage and that's what we'll be trying to do. Sky is a vital partner of ours and so that will happen in the next few hours. But this isn't just broadcasting and rugby. If you're in the horticulture industry, or the logging industry, or tourism, everyone is impacted. We're just dealing with a very narrow side of it here.

"This goes to the heart of everything. Yes rugby is important, Super Rugby is important, but health and safety is more important."