Australian Super Rugby to open doors

Super Rugby games in Australia this weekend will be open to the public but played in empty stadiums after that following advice from the Government.

Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Spectators will be welcome at Super Rugby games in Australia this weekend but the doors will then be closed indefinitely because of coronavirus fears, Rugby Australia has announced.

Three Super Rugby games and two Super W matches will proceed as scheduled on Saturday and Sunday and be open to the public, unlike some other major sports events in the country as action is taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, RA will abide by an Australian Government announcement on Friday that advises against organised non-essential gatherings of 500 people or more from Monday of next week.

It means all Super Rugby and Super W matches in Australia beyond round seven will be played in closed venues until further notice.

RA, the players' association and representatives of the four Super Rugby teams agreed to the plan during a teleconference on Friday afternoon following the Government's announcement.

Raelene Castle, chief executive of RA, said it had made the decision to best serve the players, fans and others associated with rugby.

"We are confident from this (Government) advice that there is no significant or imminent health risk to our athletes or fans for the weekend's matches," Castle said in a statement.

"At all times, any decision we make is with the health and welfare of those people front of mind. As this situation is evolving constantly, we will continue to review our position on a daily basis."

Brisbane is scheduled to host a double-header on Saturday, with the Sunwolves-Crusaders game at Suncorp Stadium to be followed by the Queensland Reds against the Bulls.

The game involving the Japan-based Sunwolves has already been moved from its original venue in Tokyo because of the coronavirus lockdown in that city.

Canberra's GIO Stadium is set to stage the Australian derby between the Brumbies and Waratahs on Sunday.

Australia follows the lead of New Zealand Rugby, which has confirmed spectators are welcome to two games on Kiwi soil this weekend.

New Zealand's approach beyond this week is yet to be clarified.

Earlier on Friday, SANZAAR confirmed the round seven game between the Jaguares and Highlanders will be played at an empty stadium in Buenos Aires following government advice.

Castle added that there are no plans to cease international travel for Australian teams, although advice will be monitored closely.


AAP