Changes to Super Rugby pre-season matches

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Both the Crusaders and Blues have had to change their pre-season game arrangements.


On Friday, the Blues announced the effects of a hot summer had caused the cancellation of their pre-season game with the Hurricanes in Warkworth on February 5.


The game will be at Onewa Domain in Takapuna.


Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said, "We had checked the ground before Christmas, but it has deteriorated in the hot summer conditions, and there is too much risk for a professional Super Rugby match.


"There was an important, and fun, day planned, but the health and welfare of our players is paramount. We are extremely disappointed for all concerned as so much planning had gone into this."


And the Crusaders have announced, after the Government ushered in the red traffic light setting in its Covid-19 Omicron variant policy on Sunday, that it was cancelling its pre-season game with the Hurricanes in Blenheim, scheduled for February 11.



Crusaders' chief executive Colin Mansbridge said the cost of hosting the game at a regional venue paired with the Omicron setting meant it was now untenable.


"We have to plan logistics, and provide certainty to a number of key stakeholders around our events, as well as doing all we can to minimise the financial risk to our club and those local partners who will be delivering and supporting the event," he said.


The game will be behind closed doors in Christchurch.


"It's always a highlight of our pre-season to connect with fans in parts of the Crusaders' region we don't usually get to play. This news will be especially disappointing for the people of Blenheim who were looking forward to seeing the first Super Rugby game played at Lansdowne Park since 2016," he said.


While Covid-19 has represented the most continuous impact of nature upon rugby and other sports, disruptions have always been a part of sport.


Possibly, the most significant in New Zealand rugby history, before the Covid epidemic occurred in 1967 when an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in England forced Ireland to close its border to protect its agricultural sector.


That denied Brian Lochore's unbeaten All Blacks side the chance to achieve New Zealand's first Grand Slam in Britain and Ireland. The side also secured a Test victory over France that could have made a five-Test winning sequence an even more impressive achievement.


Mother Nature also impacted the Crusaders in 2011 when the Christchurch earthquakes made their home venue at Lancaster Park unplayable while also causing the transfer of Rugby World Cup games from the city.



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