Southland office staff sent home

Rugby Southland sent its office staff home yesterday because of concerns one staff member had been exposed to Covid-19.

‘‘The board is taking a cautious approach and taking expert advice from the Ministry of Health and New Zealand Rugby,’’ it said in a statement.

‘‘All staff are well and are able to work at home but are following appropriate isolation protocol.’’

That follows the New Zealand Rugby offices in Wellington being hit by a possible case of the coronavirus with an employee in self-isolation and being tested.

NZR staff worked from home yesterday rather than the Molesworth St office and chief executive Mark Robinson had to change his media conference yesterday to a teleconference.

Robinson said the person in isolation was being taken care of as were the rest of NZR staff.

He said there was a very low risk of the person having coronavirus and there was s a very low risk of transmission.

Robinson said the staff member has had no contact with any Super Rugby players.

Meanwhile, the board of Rugby Southland has started planning for another frightening scenario — no provincial rugby.

It met yesterday for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the effect of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the rugby season.

All community rugby has been postponed until April 18 but there are concerns the entire season could be lost as the country battles to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The board considered a number of scenarios relating to the viability of the game ‘‘and more importantly the safety of our staff and all players and supporters’’.

The board resolved to set the Mitre 10 Cup budget for three different scenarios — business as usual, a competition played behind closed doors and no competition at all.

‘‘These budgets will be considered and discussed with New Zealand Rugby and our community funders,’’ a statement said..

‘‘Rugby Southland is committed to a community rugby season. We support the decision made by New Zealand Rugby Union [on Tuesday] night to delay the start of the 2020 season until April 18 and it may be that a later starting date is needed.

‘‘At the end of the day, however, our primary focus will be on the health and wellbeing of our community.

‘‘We will keep talking to schools, clubs [and] referees at all levels and do our utmost to keep you all informed.’’

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