Super Rugby set to resume in Australia within weeks

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia’s four Super Rugby clubs on Friday agreed to play a domestic competition starting next month after the COVID-19 pandemic forced their season to be suspended, with axed team Western Force set to replace Japan’s Sunwolves.

The southern hemisphere club championship, which features 15 teams from five countries, was halted last weekend after New Zealand and Australia said all inbound travellers must self-isolate for 14 days to counter the spread of COVID-19.

Since then, governing body SANZAAR has been exploring ways to resume the 18-round tournament, with Australia agreeing to a domestic competition without fans in line with government restrictions on public gatherings of more than 500 people.

Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle said the proposal would see the Australian teams playing a round robin home-and-away format beginning on April 3.

“There are still some elements to work through as a group, but we are extremely confident that we will deliver a meaningful product for the remainder of the season for fans and broadcasters,” she said.