Rugby Australia investigate early COVID-19 vaccinations to keep trans-Tasman comp alive

Rugby Australia investigate early COVID-19 vaccinations to keep trans-Tasman comp alive

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The majority of Super Rugby players and staff would fall into category 2B of the Australian vaccine rollout plan, along with the bulk of the general population, placing them on schedule to receive vaccinations in July.

It’s also unclear whether vaccinations would satisfy the relevant governments to the extent that a bubble would be permitted, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wanting to see more data about whether vaccination also stops transmission of COVID-19.

If a trans-Tasman bubble is approved based on vaccine passports, the next question was whether one or two doses would be required to get a stamp.

The vaccines being rolled out in Australia and New Zealand requires two separate doses about one month apart. If a passport is only issued after the second, ‘booster’ shot , that timeline would give clubs about five weeks before they must receive the first dose, if the competition is to begin as planned on May 14.

Sources with knowledge of the discussions between RA, NZRU and the clubs have told the Herald a decision as to whether the trans-Tasman competition will go ahead must be made by the end of the month.

That way, both RA and NZRU will be able to make plans to extend Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aerotoa without the integrity of either competition being questioned.

The other alternative which remains a possibility is a trans-Tasman competition “hub”. An Australian state is considered the likely destination for any hub.

The five New Zealand franchises will take some convincing a hub will be more beneficial than simply extending Super Rugby Aotearoa, as there has been limited interest from players and staff in being away from family for up to six weeks.

The other hurdle RA still has to negotiate is a deal with broadcasters. Trans-Tasman Super Rugby was part of the $100m broadcast contract Nine signed late last year and RA may be forced to provide a discount to its new partner if the competition falls over in the next month.

Meanwhile, the Brumbies are sweating on the availability of Allan Alaalatoa. The Brumbies captain was shown a red card – the fourth in six Super Rugby AU matches – for a high shot on fellow prop Pone Fa’amausili just before half time of ACT’s thrilling win over the Rebels.

He will front the SANZAAR judiciary on Tuesday night.

Force reserve hooker Andrew Ready will also likely spend several weeks on the sidelines after he punched Waratahs lock Hugh Sinclair in the head in the second half of his side’s win over the Waratahs.

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