Super Rugby Aotearoa: Blues weighing pre-season options with COVID-19 lockdown lifted

With Auckland's COVID-19 Level 3 lockdown lifted, the Blues are now weighing up their Super Rugby pre-season options. 

And while their grudge match against the Crusaders at Eden Park is still off the cards under Level 2, the encounter may still take place in Christchurch, where full crowds can attend under Level 1.

The fixture was designed to make up for the Super Rugby Aotearoa match that was cancelled, when the city went into a similar lockdown last August.

Although the southerners had already wrapped up the domestic crown, after a threepeat of Super Rugby titles, but the clash loomed as a chance for the improving Blues to finish their resurgent season with a flourish.

Instead, both franchises agreed to stage a pre-season in Auckland to help recoup some of the lost revenue from a sold-out Eden Park. Coronavirus has once again put the kibosh on that, although the match could yet take place further south.

"We will be involved in a number of discussions and meetings tonight in order to finalise plans, given the change in alert levels,” says Blues chief executive Andrew Hore.

"The reality is that we could not contemplate safely competing in the opening round of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition - arguably the best rugby contest in the world - without training together and hopefully taking part in a pre-season match.

"We are working on a range of options, including the initial plan to take on the Crusaders. We have been humbled by the level of support from the other Super clubs.

"We are fierce rivals on the field, but off it, the clubs are incredibly supportive and acting in the best spirit to ensure the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition is successful."

"We will be in a position to announce definitive plans tomorrow [Thursday] after a range of discussions take place over the next 24 hours."

Newshub understands the Chiefs have also offered to host a final hit-out for the Blues, logistically the preferable option, before the regular season begins next week.

Those two teams, plus the Hurricanes, engaged in a 'Game of Three Halves' encounter at Upper Hutt last weekend.

Join us for live updates of Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021, starting with the Highlanders v Crusaders on February 26