The eagerly anticipated domestic tournament will be played under the usual rules when it begins in June.
New Zealand Rugby chiefs have insisted that there is no need to change the rules when the Aotearoa Super Rugby tournament begins in June. World Rugby’s medical advisory group has recommended a number of alterations to help reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 when play resumes across the globe.
Suggested changes include a ban on scrum resets, team huddles, upright tackles, and spitting. However, NZR believes there is no need to make such sweeping changes when its five teams return to action next month.
“There don’t appear to be any signs of community transmission in New Zealand, so our circumstances are quite different, and we don’t anticipate the need to adopt the law proposals,” said chief executive Mark Robinson.
“We have been open with World Rugby about this and they understand our unique situation. We will continue to manage all health risks with stringent protocols and be led by our public health authorities.”
The Super Rugby tournament was called off in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just seven rounds had taken place when play was abandoned.
New Zealand has successfully stemmed the spread of the Corona Virus, and sporting events have been cleared to resume. It will become the first Tier 1 rugby nation to bring back rugby union action since the global Corona Virus lockdown began.
Aotearoa Super Rugby Schedule
The domestic Aotearoa Super Rugby tournament will feature the five New Zealand teams that traditionally compete against the finest sides from Australia and South Africa in Super Rugby, the key club rugby union competition in the southern hemisphere.
The teams will play one another at home and away across a 10-week period, starting with the Highlanders against the Chiefs on June 13 and running until August 16.
The Highlanders sat rock bottom of the Super Rugby New Zealand Conference, with just one win in six matches when the season was suspended. The Chiefs have won four and lost two this season, so they are the clear favorites to win.
They are priced at -345 with Bovada, but you can find -115 on the Chiefs -8.5 on the spread if you are looking for more value. It finished 31-31 when the Chiefs last visited Dunedin in 2019, but the Highlanders have regressed since then.
Blues Look Well Placed to Cover Spread
The other big game of the opening weekend will see the Blues take on the Hurricanes in Auckland on June 14. The Blues were 5-2 when the season was suspended, while the Hurricanes were 4-2.
The Blues picked up a 24-15 road victory against the Hurricanes on March 7, so they should be full of confidence ahead of this clash. They are the -155 favorites with Bovada to win the game, but the Blues -2.5 looks like a really appealing option with odds of -115.
There will be no fans inside the stadiums, so the atmosphere might be somewhat sterile. However, keeping everyone safe is the main aim right now, and NZR is confident in the system it has put in place.
“We’re taking good precautions,” said Blues coach Leon MacDonald. “We’ve changed our meeting room so we can have the appropriate spacing and wherever possible we’ll adhere to the safety recommendations. But once you get on the grass and start tackling you’ve got to be ready to play. It’s a tough competition we’re going into so we’ve got to be contact-ready. We’re expecting everything to look like rugby (with traditional rules and proper scrums) when we resume.”