Super Rugby Aotearoa will be extended if COVID-19 prevents trans-Tasman competition, says Blues boss Andrew Hore

If the inaugural trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition can't go ahead, Super Rugby Aotearoa will be extended, according to Blues chief executive Andrew Hore.

The tournament, where the five New Zealand and Australian teams play cross over games in both countries, is scheduled to start in May.

However, the competition is under threat due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, with a trans-Tasman bubble needed to make the schedule work.

Currently, anyone entering New Zealand or returning from overseas must quarantine for two weeks.

That would make the current Super Rugby trans-Tasman schedule, which has the Chiefs playing in Perth on the opening round before returning to Hamilton for a home game the following week, unworkable.

Hore says the tournament won't be moved to Australia and confirmed if it is cancelled, Super Rugby Aotearoa will expand, with the teams playing each other three times instead of twice, before a Grand Final.

"NZR [New Zealand Rugby] came out last week and the view has been that we would go to a third round of Super Rugby Aotearoa [if Super Rugby trans-Tasman is canned].

"It gives people certainty - there's a certain number of games that [teams know] will be played. 

"It was deemed that it would be too difficult to shift the whole competition across the Tasman."

The Blues have cancelled their final pre-season game this weekend in Auckland due to the city being at alert level 3 until at least Thursday, but Hore says his team must play another match before the start of Super Rugby Aotearoa next weekend.

Hore says players need to build up the contact training they need to be safe in the competition.

Currently, the Blues can't train under level 3 restrictions and Hore says if the lockdown continues past the current cut off, the Blues could be forced to abandon their opening game of Super Rugby Aotearoa against the Hurricanes in Wellington next Saturday night.

"My gut instinct would be if you've left it longer than that week, we've got to seriously consider what we actually do. 

"The level of contact that these players often need to build them into the rigours of a tournament such as Super Rugby Aotearoa is [huge]. So, realistically these three days are challenging, a week would be even more so."

Blues boss Andrew Hore
Blues boss Andrew Hore Photo credit: Image - Photosport

Hore says the Blues are exploring all options, including playing a hastily organised game this weekend, in or out of Auckland against another Super Rugby side, if restrictions are eased - most likely against the Crusaders.

He says they're also looking at a mid-week game next week, as well as swapping the first-round bye of the competition proper with the Chiefs, who are set to sit out the first weekend of action.