Rugby Australia presses pause on domestic Super Rugby competition

Rugby Australia had hoped to have a domestic competition up and running in a fortnight Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Rugby Australia has shelved plans for a revised domestic Super Rugby competition after the Federal Government moved to tighten restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

RA on Friday revealed it was hoping to start a new Australian competition on April 3 involving the country's four Super Rugby teams and the Western Force after the regular Super Rugby season had been suspended following the border restrictions put in place in both Australia and New Zealand.

But RA on Monday morning put those plans on ice with the shutdown of non-essential businesses and services coming into effect from Midday [AEDT].

Australia's Super Rugby players will not train for the next two weeks before they then return to a "modified" training program ahead of another potential restart on May 1.

"Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams have made the decision today to suspend the start of the revised competition on the latest guidance from the various Government and Health authorities and our Chief Medical Officer," RA boss Raelene Castle said.

"Our priority is the health and welfare of our athletes and our wider Rugby community as we continue to adapt to an unprecedented and constantly-evolving situation for our game and society.

"The decision to postpone the restart of the competition until May 1 is in line with the suspension of all community Rugby in Australia and will give us the opportunity to review our position across the whole Rugby landscape in a month's time.

"Our message to the entire Rugby community today is to follow the advice of the Government and health authorities. We must do whatever it takes to stop the spread of the virus. The spirit of the Rugby community is a powerful force, and the only way out of this crisis is to work together and look out for each other.

"While this is having an unprecedented impact on our sport and many other sports, this is bigger than sport and that is why we will continue to put the health and welfare of our people above anything else."

Rugby Australia was already in a precarious financial position before the onset of the pandemic and have since suspended its broadcast negotiations.

Castle last week confirmed the game's tenuous position had been communicated to the Federal Government.

"In relation to the financial position of Rugby Australia, the impact of government decisions to contain the coronavirus has seen Rugby Australia impacted in ways we could never have imagined," she said.

"We support these decisions as the health and wellbeing of Australians must come first. However, any ongoing restrictions will place extreme pressure on Rugby Australia's finances.

"We are obviously not the only sport in this country facing these challenges in the current environment. As a sport, we have opened communications with the government to flag these significant concerns across all levels of our game.

"We understand that this issue is much bigger than rugby and bigger than sport, and respect where we sit in the picture of what our government is dealing with at this current time."