Super Rugby 2020: Sunwolves v Brumbies faces cancelation, as Sanzaar monitor coronavirus epidemic

Sanzaar hope to move the Sunwolves' match against the Brumbies from Osaka.
Sanzaar hope to move the Sunwolves' match against the Brumbies from Osaka. Photo credit: Photosport

Super Rugby officials say Sanzaar will review its playing schedule to minimise the risk of coronavirus. 

The World Health Organisation says coronavirus has killed nearly 3000 people and infected more than 80,000 with many cases reported in Japan, home of the Sunwolves Super Rugby franchise. 

Sanzaar has confirmed that the Sunwolves' home match against the Brumbies in Osaka scheduled for March 8 won't proceed as planned. 

"Sanzaar has now been informed that the Japanese Government has requested the cancellation of sporting events in the country for the next two weeks, with specific mention of the Japanese professional sports leagues," a statement said.

"This includes the Sunwolves versus Brumbies match that is scheduled to be played in Osaka.

"Sanzaar is now working to determine if this match can be relocated. Sanzaar will issue further details on the position of this match and any potential further disruptions in the near future." 

The Sunwolves are currently in New Zealand for Saturday's match against the Hurricanes in Napier.

Along with their match in Osaka, they also have four matches in Tokyo - including a showdown against the Crusaders on March 14 - with another in Singapore. 

Earlier, Japan Rugby Football Union postponed 16 games across two rounds of the 2020 Top League season, due to growing alarm over the spiralling coronavirus crisis.

Many New Zealand players and coaches are affected, including current All Blacks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, former NZ captain Kieran Read and star first-five Dan Carter.

As it stands, no other matches will be affected, but Sanzaar will continue to monitor the situation.  

"In terms of the Super Rugby tournament as a whole, management is in regular and close contact with the National Union Chief Medical Officers [CMOs], who have been monitoring teams within their own territories against national health guidelines and health authority directives.

"Advice from the CMOs is that, within the participating Super Rugby countries, there are presently no identified cases of any players, management or match officials [or family members] presenting symptoms associated with the virus, including the Sunwolves. Daily review and monitoring of all participants is now in place under an agreed protocol.

"Under this protocol, the CMOs will ensure the set-up of sanitisation stations at all team venues, temperature checks on all players and staff, provision of contact and treatment plans for each National Union to assist visiting teams, and monitoring of match officials." 

Men's and women's Six Nations fixtures between Ireland and Italy have been postponed, with 11 towns in northern Italy in lockdown. 

Other major events affected by the coronavirus include the world athletics indoor championships, professional football matches in Italy and Asia, and the Chinese Formula One and Formula E Grands Prix, along with several Olympic qualifying events.