Blues-Crusaders Aotearoa game off as NZ extends Auckland virus curbs
The final game of New Zealand's Super Rugby Aotearoa between Auckland Blues and Canterbury Crusaders at Eden Park has been cancelled after the government extended COVID-19 restrictions in the country's biggest city, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said.
New Zealand announced on Tuesday that it was shutting down Auckland after four new cases of COVID-19 were discovered, following which the Blues had said Sunday's game could take place only if restrictions were eased.
But New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday extended level 3 restrictions imposed on Auckland by another 12 days, until Aug. 26.
"The Blues-Crusaders match scheduled for Sunday in Auckland now cannot take place. From a competition point of view, the match is now considered a draw and both teams will be awarded two points," NZR said in a statement.
All 43,236 tickets had been snapped up for the last game of the domestic championship, which was organised after the wider Super Rugby competition was shut down in March.
"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," Blues CEO Andrew Hore said.
The Crusaders had wrapped up the title with a game to spare on Sunday.
NZR confirmed the Highlanders' clash with the Wellington Hurricanes will take place as scheduled on Saturday without fans in attendance.
"We are naturally disappointed that none of our passionate supporters will be able to attend. We know the players will certainly miss that support in the stands when they play on Saturday afternoon," Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said.