Super Rugby suspended due to coronavirus fears

Super Rugby will be suspended after the ACT Brumies host the New South Wales Waratahs on Sunday. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Super Rugby will be put on hold after this weekend's matches in the wake of New Zealand announcing that travellers entering the country must self-isolate for 14 days due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

SANZAAR, who run the Southern Hemisphere club competition, said on Saturday it "has no option but to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby tournament" for the foreseeable future after the ACT Brumbies host the New South Wales Waratahs on Sunday.

SANZAAR said in a statement that following the decree from the New Zealand government, it would not be feasible to carry on with the competition, with five teams from the country participating.

"The safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of COVID-19 containment," CEO 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.

"We also believe it is time for all those players currently overseas to return home and to be with their families."

The directive from New Zealand effectively left the competition hamstrung after only seven completed rounds following this weekend.

"Our priority is, therefore, to ensure our players are within their homes territories from the end of this weekend," Marinos added.

"SANZAAR will also 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 first teams affected by the New Zealand announcement were the Black Caps cricket team, whose players rushed home before the restrictions kicked in at midnight (NZT) Sunday. The rest of the ODI series between Australia and New Zealand will not be played.