Super Rugby 2020: All Blacks' workloads to be managed during season

Even with no major international rugby tournaments scheduled for 2020, All Blacks players will face the same rest protocols as last year's Super Rugby season. 

Last year, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) asked Super Rugby teams to rest and rotate their All Blacks to ensure they were rested for the Rugby World Cup in Japan, and those exact same rules will apply this year.

Speaking to Stuff, NZR head of high performance Mike Anthony said they wanted to keep the rule in place to avoid burnout later in the season, with no test window in June to break up the Super Rugby season.

"What we're trying to create is not just about an outcome for the All Blacks for later on," Anthony said. "It's actually a win for the Super Rugby clubs, that they have those guys performing at the back end.  

"There's no player that can go through this thing and maintain form without breaks throughout. It's just such a physical contest now and high intensity running."

Those rules didn't go down well with some New Zealand's Super Rugby coaches, most notably former Chiefs coach Colin Cooper, who called for simpler rules around the resting policy. 

Anthony added that NZR has tried to manage player workloads since 2010, but hopes to make the rules clearer to all parties, which would have pleased Cooper, if he was still at the Chiefs. 

The rules say that: 

  • All Blacks will be forced to sit out at least two regular-season matches, on top of the teams' two byes. 
  • No more than six games played in succession, bye and rest weeks reset the count 
  • A 180-minute cap on game time over the first three rounds

Anthony told Stuff the rules could be tweaked next year, when Super Rugby changes to a round-robin format, with three fewer regular-season games for each team.

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