WELLINGTON: A new outbreak of the novel coronavirus has delayed the start of New Zealand's women's provincial rugby competition for at least two weeks, New Zealand Rugby said on Saturday.
The New Zealand government placed Auckland into lockdown and imposed tougher restrictions across the rest of the country on Wednesday after a fresh outbreak of cases centred in the country's largest city.
The lockdown forced the cancellation of the scheduled final game of the men's Super Rugby Aotearoa competition at Eden Park on Sunday and NZR said the women's provincial tournament, which was scheduled to start on Aug. 22, would also be affected.
"With Auckland-based teams unable to train or host matches for the next 12 days, the decision has been made not to start the competition next weekend," NZR Head of Women's Rugby Cate Sexton said in a statement.
"We'll now discuss with provincial unions and the Players Association around the different options for revising the draw."
The competition, named after former Black Ferns captain Farah Palmer, had been seen by NZR as crucial to helping the country's women's players prepare for the defence of the Rugby World Cup next year on home soil.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)