Super Rugby is going to restart in New Zealand, with the teams from the New Zealand division only.
This is good news, along with the reality that there are more players on a Super Rugby club than there have been deaths in New Zealand from Covid-19.
That may sound a bit morbid, but the country deserves some sort of recognition for taking advantage of its natural defenses, combined with a realistic response by the Government, to the pandemic.
The plan is for an opening match between the Highlanders and the Chiefs in Dunedin, to be followed next day with the Blues playing the Hurricanes in Auckland.
The fifth team in the New Zealand Conference, the Crusaders, play watchers, with a first-round bye.
The matches will be played in closed stadiums. The New Zealand-only competition is scheduled to run for 10 weeks, with four matches each weekend.
A sixth team would be nice in terms of matchups, but five is fine, as rugby starved Kiwis are grateful for anything at this point.
Another precaution being taken is that the games will initially be confined to three stadiums, with looks being given to including Eden Park in the mix.
It is a bit odd that the weekend matches will be played two on Saturday and two on Sunday, with the two games on each day starting at the same time. On the surface, staggered times might provide an opportunity for increased television viewership.
Super Rugby will conclude, barring the unforeseen, on August 16.
“This is great news for the game right across the country,” CEO Mark Robinson was quoted as saying. “It’s been a challenging time right around the country and if this can act in any way to provide leadership and inspiration for Kiwis doing it tough, then that’s fantastic.