The original Super Rugby Pacific draw is set to be the latest casualty of Covid-19-enforced disruption, with a revised schedule set to be released next week.
The new competition was thrown into confusion after the New Zealand government revealed a border opening plan that made it impossible for the trans-Tasman competition to proceed as planned.
However, Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos told reporters on Friday that Super Rugby clubs on both sides of the Tasman were committed to getting contingency plans over the line, and were close to doing so.
“What I can say is that our teams and the New Zealand teams are working furiously to get a revised draw,” Marinos said.
“We’re not too far away. We’re hoping that in the early part of next week we’ll be able to start communicating an adjusted draw.
“We’re going to have to adjust it because of the Covid impacts. We’re just waiting for further confirmation out of New Zealand in terms of understanding of what those requirements would be around their players moving in an out of Australia, as much as we are working with the guys up in Perth in terms of what are the movements out of West Australia.”
Highlanders and Crusaders chief executives Roger Clark and Colin Mansbridge told Stuff last month they wanted the government to show greater flexibility to facilitate trans-Tasman sporting competitions, but the case numbers in Australia – more than 1000 a day in Victoria and rising in NSW – suggested that the government was unlikely to budge from its border plan.
However, if the draw can be rejigged to ‘front load’ it with derbies, that would be an acceptable if not ideal solution for the Kiwi sides, who are determined to get the competition up and running in some shape or form.
“What we have learnt through this whole pandemic is that we always have a Plan A, and that’s what we do a lot of our modelling on, but we’ve always got a Plan B, C and D, sitting behind that,” Marinos said.
“The teams have been really good at putting those contingencies in place, which helps us to keep the games going.”
Super Rugby Pacific was due to start with a game between new side Moana Pasifika and the Brumbies at Mt Smart Stadium on 18 February.
SOURCE: STUFF NZ