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Rugby Australia Looking Into New Competition

Rugby Australia have confirmed that they are looking into the possibility of developing a new competition

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(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia have announced that they are looking at creating a new national club competition.

However, nothing will be set in stone until after the organisation have agreed terms on a new broadcasting rights deal. 

“Rugby Australia wishes to confirm that it has investigated the establishment of a national club competition ahead of its media rights negotiation. However the final competition format will not be determined until further consultation with the successful broadcaster, the state and territory member unions, and the clubs,” Rugby Australia said in a statement earlier today. 

Rugby Australia are set to take their broadcasting rights to the market next month in what is a historic move that could pave a new way forward for the game. 

It was reported previously that long-term broadcaster Fox Sport had left Rugby Australia following an inability to agree on a deal running from 2021-2025. 

However, CEO Raelene Castle stated yesterday that the media broadcaster hasn’t yet walked away and believes that they will be in the frame come next month. 

The introduction of a new format to the national league would add to the overall pull of a package for the broadcaster that wants to agree a deal as they will also have coverage of the Rugby Championship and Super Rugby competitions. 

Rugby

Italy Become Latest Country to Scrap Domestic Season

Italy have joined a number of top-tier nations today by announcing that their domestic rugby season will go no further

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(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Italy are the latest country to call off the remainder of their domestic season due to coronavirus the Italian Rugby Federation has confirmed.

The only competition that Italian teams are involved in that is yet to be scrapped is the PRO14, which Benetton and Zebre are hoping can continue come the end of the pandemic.

However, that is seeming less and less likely as the days pass by, with less time to play the games ahead of the opening of next season.

“The governing body of Italian rugby has approved the definitive suspension of the 2019/2020 season. The decision implies the non-assignment of the Italian champion titles and of all the promotion and retrocession processes. In taking a decision that is unprecedented in the history of Italian rugby since the Second World War to date, the Council has taken the utmost consideration of the founding values of Italian rugby and their active impact on civil society and clubs,” a statement from the federation read.

There are four tiers of Italian rugby that are most noticeably affected by the decision made today with the Top 12, and Serie A, B and C all having their seasons cut short and classed as null and void meaning there are no champions, promotions or relegations from any of the leagues.

It follows a similar trend to that of Ireland and England, who have both cancelled the rest of their domestic seasons due to the outbreak of the virus which is causing major issues among the sporting calendar.

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Japanese Top League Cancels Remainder of Season

The Japanese Top League have put a halt to the remainder of their season due to the coronavirus outbreak

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The Japanese Top League have announced that they will not play the remainder of the current season due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Their decision follows a similar line America’s Major League Rugby, who decided to put an end to their season last week. 

In Japan they were set to head into round 11 of the season, but they will play no further games and will have no final standings for the campaign as a result they revealed in a statement. 

“Given the current status of Novel Coronavirus (COVID019) and expanding infections, the Japan Rugby Top League (JRTL) has decided to cancel all matches of Round 11 and after in the 2020 season as well as this year’s tournament itself. “JRTL has reached to the decision from the following three viewpoints;

1. To secure the health and safety of spectators, players and staffs.

2. Following the rapid global spread of the virus, the governments of many various countries including New Zealand and Australia have advised their citizens in overseas to return to their home countries immediately, which mean that many of foreign players in the Top League will return to their homes.

3. All the top league clubs are participating and operating in the league as company sport clubs and it would cause a significant adverse impact on the companies, if any players and/or team staffs are infected. 

Since the Japan Rugby Top League 2020 has been cancelled in the middle of its season and will not be completed, there will be no final standing. Thus, the four participating teams to the 57th Japan Rugby Championship, which currently is scheduled to be held from Saturday May 23rd, will be determined in an alternative way. Further information will be announced as soon as it is confirmed,” a statement read. 

Before the announcement a number of overseas players had already been allowed to return to their home countries following the outbreak. 

It is a big call to make given that other competitions around the globe such as the PRO14, Gallagher Premiership and Super Rugby have initially suspended their campaigns with the hope to conclude them whenever possible instead of calling it quits too early. 

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New Zealand Suspend All Rugby

New Zealand Rugby have confirmed that all forms of rugby will be put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby have announced that all rugby is to be suspended following the latest update by the government over the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier today it was confirmed that the country will step up their efforts to combat the virus by moving from a level three alert to a level four in the next 48 hours, meaning that any form of travel will be limited and only essential shops will remain open. 

With Super Rugby being suspended last week, there was a hope that the New Zealand-based sides could play out their own competition come April, but that now appears unlikely with New Zealand Rugby putting rugby on hold for the foreseeable future. 

“Following the New Zealand Government’s lifting of the coronavirus alert status to level 3, all rugby in New Zealand will be suspended for the foreseeable future. SANZAAR, New Zealand Rugby (NZR), New Zealand’s Super Rugby Clubs and the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) had been working on ways to progress a revised Super Rugby competition but these plans are now on hold following today’s Government announcement. All New Zealand teams will cease training, and at this stage there are no decisions on the future of the Super Rugby competition or the All Blacks tests scheduled for July. NZR chief executive Mark Robinson says our priority is the health and welfare of our players, management and the wider rugby community at this challenging time,” a statement by New Zealand Rugby read. 

It remains to be seen whether or not the remainder of the Super Rugby season can be played out, but the longer the delay the more unlikely that seems. 

That uncertain timeline has also raised questions surrounding the All Blacks summer tests against Wales and Scotland that are set to take place during July. 

Elsewhere, it is believed that Australia will now have to follow a similar route after they had also planned to play a domestic tournament with the inclusion of the Western Force in the coming weeks. That will be reviewed now, but it would appear likely that it will follow the same road as New Zealand’s.

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