Blues look at Covid contingencies

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Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said on Tuesday that after the cancellation of Saturday's intended rugby fest at Eden Park due to the Level Three lockdown in Auckland, all options were being explored concerning the game, and also the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa competition which starts next week.


There was a knock-on effect involved in delaying the start of the competition and any changes needed to be carefully considered, especially for the teams.


The warm-up game was important, especially when playing 'the best in the business'.


"We know that Super Rugby Aotearoa, in particular, is physically demanding. We need to get these boys' bodies used to taking contact and their speed of thought, and the best way to do that are these pre-season fixtures," he said.


"The concerning part is the level of contact these players often need to build-up for the rigours of Super Rugby Aotearoa. This three days is challenging, a week [without training] would be even moreso," he said.


Playing a mid-week game to catch up was unlikely for either the pre-season or the competition proper because of the need for player welfare. It was hard enough with a six-day turnaround in games, he said.


The Crusaders were working on securing a venue should that be required, and that would also be dependent on what Level was in place. Level Two would mean no crowd could attend.

The No.1 priority was getting a fixture in place and the Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa competition underway, and it was a case of working around issues to make the latter happen.


At the same time, it was an ongoing test of the ability to cope with lockdowns should they occur in the future.


Hore explained the reason for the early call on abandoning the day was due to the activities on the periphery of the game with schools around Eden Park organising fair days to coincide with the day, while there were a lot of activities at Eden Park before the game.


"There was so much going to happen that we felt leaving it to Thursday to make the decision was just too late," he said.


Another factor beyond that was the performance of the Blues.


"What we learnt from last time was making calls earlier rather than later actually helped us a lot, so we decided we would take all the variables into account and make the decision relatively quickly," he said.


Hore thanked all the other clubs, especially the Crusaders, who had moved things around to make the game possible and were still working to make the game achievable still if restrictions are lowered.

If there was no way that the scheduled trans-Tasman competition could be played as a result of restrictions on either side of the Tasman, there was provision for a third round of the New Zealand competition.


"It gives people certainty that there would be a certain number of games played at home," he said.


The financial hit for the Blues from not staging Saturday's event was significant, although those most affected would be the charities who stood to benefit from the day.


"The economic impact is actually quite significant," he said. That was keeping in mind 18,000 had retained their tickets from last season's abandoned final, while there were indications that if the weather was good a big walk-up crowd was likely.


Consideration was being given on Tuesday as to what benefits would be available to make amends for those ticket holders who don't seek a refund.



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