Super Rugby 2020: Highlanders v Jaguares match cancelled

The Highlanders' Super Rugby match against the Jaguars in Buenos Aires has been cancelled by mutual agreement. 

The match was due to be played behind closed doors at  José Amalfitani Stadium, but following the New Zealand Government's announcement that travellers entering the country must self-isolate for 14 days due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak, the game has been called off.  

However, the next flight from Argentina to New Zealand doesn't arrive until Tuesday, meaning the Highlanders will still have to self-issolate, with the strict new rules come into affect at midnight Sunday. 

SANZAAR said the "decision comes following concerns in response to the uncertainty created by the Highlanders players and management having to enter self isolation upon return to New Zealand following the New Zealand governments recently announced travel restrictions." 

The match was due to be played at 12pm (NZ time). 

"We have reviewed the situation and based on the international recommendations, it was taken this measure in order to preserve the physical integrity of the players," said a statement from the Argentinian Rugby Union. 

"We apologize for the inconveniences caused, but the context is changing by the minute and we must act accordingly." 

Both teams have been awarded two points as a result. 

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said it was the right decision to ensure the Highlanders return home safely. 

"SANZAAR does not take this decision lightly,but after consulting widely with key stakeholders, the SANZAAR Executive Committee has taken the necessary step to cancel the scheduled fixture with the players and team management health and welfare paramount," said Marinos. 

"As stated previously while disappointed to be in this position our priority is to ensure the players currently overseas return home healthy and safely to be with their families."

Whether or not the final match of the round - between the Brumbies and Waratahs in Canberra tonight - goes ahead is not yet clear. 

The announcement comes shortly after Sanzaar's decision to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby season following the conclusion of this weekend’s matche

"The safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of COVID-19 containment," Marinos said in a statement on Saturday. 

"We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans, broadcasters and partners but given the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives.

"We also believe it is time for all those players currently overseas to return home and to be with their families."

The directive from New Zealand left the competition, involving teams from Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa, hamstrung after only seven completed rounds following this weekend. The event is based on 18 rounds of group matches, followed by knockout rounds and the final.