The squad announcement occurred on August 18 yet no sooner had the applause quietened down, has New Zealand Rugby (NZR) had to postpone the North v South clash as the ability for the match to continue is wholly dependent on Covid-19 alert level status.
With the harsher restrictions surrounding the Auckland boundaries, and with a large number of the nominated players residing inside that Level 3 region, it has been decided to postpone the fixture. Now it has shifted from August 29, to now be played to September 5*.
That proviso is explained by NZR General Manager of professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum, who said that the 14 Auckland-based players in the North squad, as well as five support staff, had not been granted an exemption to leave Auckland.
“We’re disappointed that the game can’t go ahead at this stage next week, but we understand and respect the Government’s decision,” Lendrum says.
📰 UPDATE | North v South has been postponed. Hit the link below for all the details.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 21, 2020
Postponed North v South clash dependent on Covid-19 status
Depending on further New Zealand Government announcements on Covid-19 alert levels, the match will be played at either Auckland’s Eden Park or, Sky Stadium in Wellington.
That indecision includes participating players. of the group named by the All Blacks selection panel, are men who are limited by their residence. And that is a new, and unfair relationship. Not being able to assemble as a team in Auckland before the Covid-19 status is known, they are ‘in limbo’.
North Island captain-in-waiting Patrick Tuipulotu summed it up best. “Now nothing changes. I’ve still got to prepare well and do what I have to in order to be ready come game-time, whether it’s for the Blues, Auckland, the North, or the All Blacks.”
It means the opposing captain Sam Whitelock is more than empathetic to his Auckland colleagues but, aware that for the good of the game, a crowd is advantageous to all stakeholders. He will cherish the opportunity to play and captain the South Island yet, the safety and welfare of his teammates is paramount.
When that final decision is made, is dependent on the authorities. Even with its influence, NZR could not make the Minister of Health ‘see their side of the story’. It seems no exception can be made at this critical time. [NZ is battling the second-wave of the pandemic].
Another consideration for the September 5 timing is that the Mitre10 CupMitre10 Cup begins on Sept 11 – so NZR is limited in making an further changes, that might disrupt that important domestic competition.
NZ Rugby want the North v South clash to go ahead with Fans
Chris Lendrum stated that “We know everyone wants the game to go ahead, the players and fans are all looking forward to it and we think it’ll be a real boost for the country during these unsettling times.
“So we remain solution-focused, will look to get the game played a week later, and remain excited at the prospect of these two teams going head to head.”
Fans want as much. That is why Eden Park was probably going to be SOLD OUT yet now, it is forbidden. Harsh yes, however, all for the best if the country can rid itself of any community transmission of the virus.
Rugby players can play their part. Firstly, by following the same guidelines and restrictions applied to the citizens of Auckland. Then, if the circumstances prevail, to react positively, for the betterment and entertainment of NZ Rugby fans worldwide.
*A decision on whether or not the game will be played in Auckland or Wellington on September 5, and other details on the game, will be made following the Government’s next announcement on Monday, August 24.
Covid-19 also interrupted the beginning of the 2020 Farah Palmer Cup start. That has now been delayed until September 5.
— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) August 19, 2020
It still sees all teams play each other once, with the season finale moved back one week to late October for the North pool/South pool finals.
“Main photo credit”
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