Sunday’s Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Blues and the Crusaders has been cancelled following a change to coronavirus restrictions in Auckland.
The decision comes after the government in New Zealand confirmed Auckland will remain at stage three of the country’s COVID-19 protocols for 12 days, while the rest of the nation is at stage two.
Consequently, the fixture – which was scheduled to be part of the final round of the competition at Eden Park – will be scored as a draw with both teams awarded two points.
The match between the Highlanders and the Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium will go ahead without fans in attendance, with the kick-off time brought forward by four hours to 3:05pm local time to meet rules on teams flying in and out of cities on the same day to limit public reaction.
Blues CEO Andrew Hore said: “10 weeks ago we never thought we’d even have a competition, let alone one with fans.
“But instead we got nine weeks of incredible rugby, with three amazing home games and massive crowds.
“While this news is disappointing, we need to take a step back and be grateful for what we got, what it meant to our players, our sponsors and, most importantly, to our fans.”
.@BluesRugbyTeam UPDATE | With Covid-19 Level 3 restrictions, the Blues are unable to train together as a team. However they are preparing individually to play the final game in #SuperRugbyAotearoa against the @crusadersrugby.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) August 13, 2020
Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge added: “Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa has been a fantastic display of unity and togetherness for all New Zealanders.
“While it would have been fitting to finish our campaign in front of a full house at Eden Park, I think the rugby community can be incredibly proud of what we have collectively achieved over the last 10 weeks, and will understand that this decision has been made in the best interests of New Zealanders.
“On behalf of the Crusaders, I want to thank all of our fans for their incredible support throughout the 2020 season.”
Chris Lendrum, New Zealand Rugby’s general manager of professional Rugby and performance, said he understood the decision.
“It’s fantastic that the Highlanders-Hurricanes game can go ahead as one final celebration of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa,” he said.
“On the flipside, we’re obviously disappointed that the Blues-Crusaders match is off, but we all understand and support the government’s decision around this.
“Both teams have played outstanding rugby throughout the competition in front of packed crowds and, on behalf of New Zealand rugby, we want to thank all the fans for their support for not only those two teams, but all five of our Super teams. It’s been incredible.”
The Crusaders wrapped up the title last weekend after coming from behind to beat the Highlanders 32-22 at a sold-out Orangetheory Stadium.