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New Zealand rugby hopes to set example for sports world

New Zealand's five Super Rugby teams will play each other in a 10-week domestic competition from June 13, bringing comfort to "Kiwis doing it tough" and inspiring a sports world brought to a standstill by the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) made the announcement yesterday after the government confirmed it would take its alert level down a notch from Thursday, with the rate of coronavirus infections having slowed to a trickle.

New Zealand is the first major rugby nation to announce a restart to competition since the coronavirus pandemic shredded the global sports calendar in March.

"I think a lot of people around the world are obviously watching us and being in touch around how we're approaching it... not only for New Zealand but right around the sporting world," NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said in a video call with reporters yesterday.

"So it's critical we do it well."

"Doing it well" will mean teams flying in and out on chartered planes on match days and playing at closed stadiums until authorities allow fans back into venues. - REUTERS