SANZAAR will suspend the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby tournament for the foreseeable future, at the conclusion of this weekend’s matches it was announced this afternoon.

The decision was made during a SANZAAR Executive Committee (EXCO) teleconference in response to the announcement by the New Zealand Government that all travellers returning to the country would have to self-isolate for 14 days, including Vodacom Super Rugby players. Five New Zealand teams play in the 15-team Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.

The SANZAAR statement said the organisation completely understood the directive issued by the New Zealand government, given concerns globally over the COVID-19 virus and the primary aim to reduce exposure and spread of the virus.

SANZAR CEO Andy Marinos said: “The safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of COVID-19 containment.

“We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans,broadcasters and partners butgiven the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives. We also believe it is time for all those players currently overseas to return home and to be with their families.

“Our priority is, therefore, to ensure our players are within their homes territories from the end of this weekend.

“SANZAAR will also remain engaged with its stakeholders and will continue to explore avenues to see if we can keep the rugby product alive within our core markets, with the possibility to be in a position to resume the tournament, if at all possible, in future weeks. We have currently played seven rounds out of the 18 in the normal regular season”.

The players and managements of the Vodacom Bulls (who are currently in Australia) and Emirates Lions (New Zealand) will return to South Africa.

SANZAAR said it would issue further information on Vodacom Super Rugby 2020 tournament and any potential rescheduled fixtures in the days ahead.