The 2020 Super Rugby season will be suspended following this weekend’s matches, SANZAAR has announced.

The rugby union competition was one of the few still going ahead across the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Top-level sport has widely been postponed or cancelled, with close to 150,000 confirmed cases of the virus and over 5,500 deaths worldwide.

Super Rugby will now fall into line with other tournaments, too, after stringent new rules were imposed in New Zealand, where visitors or returning travellers have been told to self-isolate for 14 days.

A SANZAAR statement on Saturday read: “Following a SANZAAR executive committee teleconference in response to the announcement by the New Zealand government that all returning travellers will have to self-isolate for 14 days, including Super Rugby players, SANZAAR believes it has no option but to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby tournament at the conclusion of this weekend’s matches for the foreseeable future.

“Five New Zealand teams play in the 15-team Super Rugby tournament and SANZAAR completely understands the directive issued by the New Zealand government given concerns globally over the COVID-19 virus and the primary aim to reduce exposure and spread of the virus.”

Chief executive Andy Marinos said: “We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans, broadcasters and partners but given the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives.”

He added: “SANZAAR will remain engaged with its stakeholders and will continue to explore avenues to see if we can keep the rugby product alive within our core markets, with the possibility to be in a position to resume the tournament if at all possible in future weeks.”

The season is in matchweek seven of 18 in the regular season.

The Hurricanes, Blues, Crusaders and Reds have already recorded victories this weekend, with three fixtures still to come.

The Sharks host the Stormers and the Jaguares play the Highlanders later on Saturday, before the Brumbies and the Waratahs meet in the final fixture before the league’s suspension on Sunday.