Netball, rugby both delayed

Netball and rugby are delaying starts to their seasons at all levels, while football is expected to make a decision today.

Netball New Zealand yesterday postponed all community netball until at least May 2 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while New Zealand Rugby announced last night it had postponed the start of rugby until April 18.

Dunedin Netball said it was working hard in what was an ever-changing situation.

‘‘We are currently working through changes to programme and competition dates and refund procedures for programmes that were due to start this month,’’ it said.

‘‘Please understand we are working on solutions and options to address these issues and we will provide information as soon as we can.

‘‘In the meantime, we appreciate how great the netball whanau are at supporting each other. This is a difficult time for all, and we appreciate your understanding. We will do our utmost to get everyone back on court as soon as it is safe to do so.’’

In Dunedin, a preseason tournament has been suspended and the premier club programme start pushed back.

New Zealand Rugby said the postponement included all matches.

Non-contact training activities can continue at least in the short term while the situation was monitored with the Ministry of Health.

All team-based activity will be adapted to comply with the limits the Ministry has set. This includes minimising person-to-person contact and maintaining hygiene standards including not sharing drink bottles, washing hands and regularly cleaning rugby equipment.

NZR said it was a difficult decision for the organisation to make, but it was important to do so in the interests of the health of all rugby participants.

The wellbeing of players, coaches, referees, volunteers, supporters and the wider New Zealand community was the top priority for the game.

While the postponement will be disappointing for many, postponing the game for the time being was in everyone’s best interests.

The postponement gave the provincial unions and local competition organisers the opportunity to regroup, reschedule and determine how they can deliver meaningful competition when rugby resumes.

School rugby, and in most cases, junior club rugby competitions, start in early May and were therefore unaffected by the postponement at this stage.

The decision to call off the sport was made late yesterday after a conference call by NZR and provincial unions.

North Otago and Dunedin club rugby was set to start this weekend, with a double round set to be played in Dunedin.

Games were to be played in Dunedin on Friday night and then again on Monday. The April 18 date gave no guarantee the games would start on that date.

Otago Cricket Association (OCA) chief executive Mike Coggan confirmed club cricket will continue, although he said there was always the possibility it might be called off. Plunket Shield cricket was suspended on Monday.

New Zealand Football is discussing with its federations today whether to delay its season.

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