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Blues rugby CEO laments NZ restrictions

Andrew Hore, CEO of the Auckland-based Blues, has expressed frustration at New Zealand’s COVID-19 restrictions, saying they are getting “a bit silly” and that his Super Rugby Pacific team’s season is on the verge of financial ruin even before it starts.

The six New Zealand teams in the competition will spend the first few weeks of the season in a hub in the remote South Island resort city of Queenstown, while attendance at matches will be capped at 100, in line with the government’s attempt to minimise coronavirus infections.

The Blues’ season, which starts on February 18, “is not completely broken yet, but it is about mitigating the losses,” Hore told a news conference.

“We’re in no-man’s land about where things go. Then you’ve got these draconian close contact rules that make, for most businesses in this country looking through an economic lens, everything unworkable and seemingly very disorganised.”

Even when the New Zealand-based teams return to play at their home venues in early March there is no guarantee that crowds will be allowed back.

Across the Tasman Sea, Australia-based teams in the 12-team competition by contrast will welcome crowds, boosting their coffers and giving matches some atmosphere.

Hore almost pleaded with the government to relax its coronavirus-related rules, observing enviously the situation in other nations.

“We’re expecting crowds. People have made their choices around vaccinations and those people who are double-vaxxed should be rewarded with being able to go to these things,” he said.

“I don’t think we should be held to ransom by those that haven’t. The rest of the world seems to be getting on with it.

“People are starting to get to a point now where life has got to get moving again and this is getting a bit silly.”

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