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Full crowds to be allowed at New Zealand Super Rugby

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Full crowds to be allowed at New Zealand Super Rugby

There will be no crowd restrictions when Super Rugby resumes in New Zealand this weekend, competition organisers said Monday, hailing the move as a world first after the coronavirus. “Super Rugby Aotearoa will be the first professional rugby competition in the world to have fans return en-masse in the COVID-19 era when the competition kicks off in Dunedin on Saturday,” New Zealand Rugby said in a statement.

The competition involves New Zealand’s five Super Rugby teams and has been set up as a temporary domestic replacement for the southern hemisphere club tournament, which is suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans will be able to buy tickets to the opening round matches of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa soon from here: Highlanders v Chiefs and Blues v Hurricanes.

The welcome news for rugby fans comes after the Government confirmed New Zealand will move to Alert Level 1 at midnight tonight lifting all restrictions on mass gatherings including at stadiums. NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said the Government announcement was fantastic news for rugby.

“It is a testament to all New Zealanders that we are in a position to lift restrictions on mass gatherings and it’s a massive boost for Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa,” he said.

“We’re incredibly proud, and grateful, to be the first professional sports competition in the world to be in a position to have our teams play in front of their fans again. It’s going to be a very special and unique competition and it’s fitting that New Zealanders now have a chance to be part of it.”New Zealand has no active COVID-19 cases after the country’s final patient was given the all-clear and released from isolation, health authorities said Monday.

The milestone was “really good news” and an achievement the whole of New Zealand could take heart from, health department director-general Ashley Bloomfield said.“Having no active cases for the first time since February 28 is certainly a significant mark in our journey but, as we’ve previously said, ongoing vigilance against COVID-19 will continue to be essential,” he said in a statement.

New Zealand has won praise for its handling of the pandemic, which involved a strict seven-week lockdown that ended last month after the virus was contained. The South Pacific nation, with a population of five million, has had 1,154 confirmed cases and 22 deaths. There have been no new infections for 17 days and, until Monday, just one active case for more than a week.

-The South African

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