Fans of the Gallagher Chiefs will not have to wait too much longer to see their team on the playing field again with Super Rugby Aotearoa set to kick-off next month.
After the Government's announcement on Monday that New Zealand would move to alert level 2, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) confirmed that the domestic form of Super Rugby involving the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders – known as Super Rugby Aotearoa – will start on June 13.
The competition will see the five Super Rugby clubs playing each other home and away over 10 weeks, with two matches every weekend at 5.05pm on Saturdays and 3.05pm on Sundays.
Matches will be played in closed stadiums until the Government advises an approach to managing mass gatherings in controlled venues that will allow fans to return.
It means in its opening weekend, Waikato Chiefs fans will be able to see their team once again take to the field against the Highlanders, albeit from the their TVs.
Chiefs Rugby Club chief executive Michael Collins says he is thrilled fans would be able to watch Super Rugby once again.
"We're thrilled for our fans, players and stakeholders for the return of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa at level 2. Like our fans, the team is excited to return to training under level 2 and prepare for the upcoming Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa competition," Collins says.
"We know there will be plenty of fiercely competitive rugby taking place once we take the field again in the 10-round New Zealand derby competition," says Collins.
Players will need to train for three to four weeks to ensure they are adequately prepared with contact training before matches would commence.
Collins stressed that the health and safety of everyone involved was the club's number one priority.
"We know this is a unique situation and the players would prefer to be playing in front of all our members and fans. This is a continuously evolving situation and the health and safety of everyone involved is our number one priority."
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos says Super Rugby fans in New Zealand and across the globe will be excited that we may, in the near future, be able to restart rugby.
"We have known for some time that once the green light is given to recommence playing [in any of our territories] that a revised Super Rugby competition format will have to be implemented.
"This will mean a strong domestic focus in each territory given the travel, border and Government restrictions that we will have to adhere to."