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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 13 July, 2020
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No crowd limits as Super Rugby returns in New Zealand this weekend

The actions gets underway on Saturday with the Highlanders hosting the Chiefs.

NEW ZEALAND RUGBY [NZR] has confirmed that there will be no limit on crowd numbers as the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition kicks-off this weekend.

The Kiwi tournament will be the the first professional rugby competition in the world to have fans return en-masse in the Covid-19 era when it gets underway in Dunedin on Saturday with the Highlanders hosting the Chiefs [KO 8.05am Irish time, Sky Sports].

There will be fans at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday too as the Blues take on the Hurricanes [KO 4.35am Irish time].

highlanders-supporter-ahead-of-the-game Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin will host fans on Saturday. Source: Photosport/Dianne Manson/INPHO

Super Rugby Aotearoa will feature New Zealand’s five professional franchises playing against each other over the course of the next 10 weeks, with one game every Saturday [KO 8.05am Irish time] and one game every Sunday [KO 4.35am].

NZR’s announcement regarding fans being able to attend games comes after New Zealand’s government confirmed that the country is moving to Alert Level 1, lifting all restrictions on mass gatherings including at stadiums.

“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,” said NZR CEO Mark Robinson

“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.”

The announcement from NZR included confirmation of changes to the kick-off times, which came about as a result of New Zealand moving to Level 1.

“With the return of community sport, we wanted to give our many fans involved in Saturday sport time to finish up their games, get ready to head out, and then across town to our venues. We’re excited to be able to provide some daytime Sunday rugby in 2020,” said NZR’s head of professional rugby, Chris Lendrum.

“With the change to Level 1 our teams can now prepare normally for matches, rather than asking them to fly in and out on match day.”

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Murray Kinsella

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