Coronavirus: NZ Rugby HQ COVID-19 free after tests come back negative

NZ Rugby headquarters is coronavirus free, after confirmation two staff members have returned negative tests for COVID-19.

Chief executive Mark Robinson revealed last week that NZR had sent most staff home, after a staff member had potentially been exposed to coronavirus.

But speaking to Sky Sports' The Breakdown, a relieved Robinson said his organisation was back to business as usual - well sort of, given the nationwide lockdown.

"Very pleased to say that the two staff members have tested negative," Robinson said.

"Obviously, everyone at NZ Rugby is thrilled at that news and now we are ploughing ahead and getting back to work."

On working from home Robinson added: "It's fantastic that I get to see my three kids, but of course, that also presents a few difficulties, as I am sure many working mums and dads found out today."

But while one drama passes, another unfolds.

The Breakdown revealed All Blacks coach Ian Foster and wife Leigh had been self-isolating back home in the Waikato, after being at a World Rugby working group in the UK.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster
All Blacks coach Ian Foster Photo credit: Getty

Meanwhile, Robinson's focus is now firmly on the sport's survival of the sport at a national level, which is in question, with zero revenue coming in from gate-takings and broadcasting.

Player pay-cuts have been mooted by some, including veteran All Black hooker Dane Coles.

On Monday, the Hurricanes co-captain told NZME that he would be more than willing to suffer a financial hit, if it resulted in the long-term security of the game in New Zealand.

While Robinson said he was extremely proud of Coles for speaking out on a public forum and suggesting other players follow suit, NZR and the Players Association (PA) are only in the very "early discussion" stage.

"[PA boss Rob Nichol] and the players have been fantastic to deal with over this period. "They have been very engaged and acknowledged that they have a part to play, but the detail of what all that looks like is still to be worked through.

Mark Robinson
Mark Robinson Photo credit: Photosport

"I will say, it was really heartening to read Dane Coles' comments. I thought he was very measured in the way he talked about the Government and the leadership they have shown, and the role the government has in calming the nation. 

"It's great for us to have a leading player like Dane acknowledging the fact that this is now a nationwide, as well as a global issue, and putting some context around that and that rugby takes a back seat to wider issues.

"But we do feel we have a strong leadership role to play in providing joy and excitement to a lot of people, and our vision is to inspire people if we can get back onto the field."

Robinson also said the July home series against Wales and Scotland were still scheduled, but conversations with other international unions were ongoing.

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