Crusaders clash moved to Sunday: Bid to have fans in stadium if Covid restrictions eased

Orangetheory Stadium has a seating capacity of over 18,000 people. Photo: vbase.co.nz
Orangetheory Stadium has a seating capacity of over 18,000 people. Photo: vbase.co.nz
New Zealand Rugby has moved the Crusaders-Hurricanes Super Rugby Aotearoa clash in Christchurch to Sunday in an attempt to allow fans to attend.

The teams were originally scheduled to play at Orangetheory Stadium on Saturday night (7.05pm), but the change means fans would be able to attend the round two fixture, providing the city moves down to Covid-19 alert level 1 and the restictions are not extended beyond the planned seven days.

The level 3 restrictions in Auckland - and level 2 restrictions for the remainder of NZ - came into force at 6am on Sunday following the detection of a new community case in the country’s biggest city.

The new kick-off time is 4.35pm.

"Nobody wants to play in an empty stadium and the opportunity to move the match 24-hours seems like the right thing to do for the Crusaders, their fans, and their players," said New Zealand Rugby head of professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum.

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said the change was another example of working together in difficult times.

“Our fans mean a lot to our club and to our players, and if there was an opportunity to have our community there for our first home match of the season, then we were always going to take it,” he said.

However, the Chiefs home game against the Highlanders in Hamilton remains scheduled for a 7.05pm kickoff on Friday night, although there was consideration of a move.

Chiefs boss Michael Collins said he was disappointed for the club’s fans, but understood the reasons for moving only one of the two matches to Sunday.

“It’s a tricky situation, but when it comes to Covid-19, we are all committed to doing the right thing and taking a zero-risk approach to the health and safety of our fans, which means no crowds at level 2.

“We looked closely at the possibility of playing on Sunday, but in the end we understood the rationale for only moving one match.”

The Crusaders opened their title defence with a 26-13 victory in Dunedin on Friday night. The Blues beat the Hurricanes 31-16 in Wellington on Saturday night, while the Chiefs had a bye.

 

 

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