New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson has said that the sport is “fighting for survival” as competitions at all levels are shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robinson told Sky Sport’s The Breakdown that he cannot say when professional rugby might resume in New Zealand and in what form, whether it would be the five-nation Super Rugby tournament or the domestic Mitre 10 Cup.
Rugby is New Zealand’s national sport and the All Blacks, the national men’s team, are one of the country’s most recognizable brands.
The continuing suspension of competitions has been fully testing rugby’s resilience, Robinson said.
“We’re fighting for sport’s survival in New Zealand around rugby, and if you can’t get motivated by that challenge and the opportunity that sits beyond that, then we’ll never be motivated,” Robinson said. “It’s creating anxiety in our game at all levels, from our clubs and community level and into our professional ranks.”
“We’ve just got to take a little more time to understand the information we have to gather and then we’ll be in a position hopefully early next week to start making some decisions and giving a bit more direction and certainty to people,” he said.
Robinson said that he had taken part in a conference call with World Rugby on Tuesday, but was not able to say whether July test matches would take place.
World Rugby is “in a similar mode to what we all are at the moment, trying to understand a whole range of different scenarios,” Robinson said. “At the moment the dialogue looks very positive and constructive, but, like a lot conversations, we need a bit more time to play out what this might look like.”
“A hell of a lot of work is going on in the background,” he added.
New Zealand Rugby has indicated that it might be forced to call for government assistance if the shutdown persists and further strains its finances. The organization had already taken steps to cut expenditure, but had not yet moved to cut pay to top players.
“The government has done an amazing job in showing leadership,” Robinson said. “In a way, that has left us with the best opportunity to get on the field earlier.”
“If we’re looking at a short turnaround to get through this and past COVID-19, then it presents a great opportunity to be playing rugby all the more earlier,” he added.
For Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin, there were no chances left: Either beat the world’s top-ranked men’s doubles badminton team from Indonesia for the first time or see their Olympic hopes dashed in the preliminary round. The world No. 3 Taiwanese duo answered the challenge, edging past Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in their final Group A match 21-18, 15-21, 21-17 to qualify for the final eight knockout round. “We finally made it,” Lee wrote on Facebook after beating the Indonesian duo. However, he said that the competition still had a long way to go. “We’re happy not only because
INTO THE SEMIS: Top seed Tai Tzu-ying hit two stunning backhands in quick succession while on the floor in her quarter-final, prompting disbelieving gasps and cheers Taiwanese badminton stars Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin yesterday advanced to the gold medal match of the men’s doubles, while Taiwanese top seed Tai Tzu-ying got off to a rough start in a nail-biting women’s singles quarter-final against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, but rallied with a series of flash backhand smashes. Lee and Wang beat Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-11, 21-10 in their men’s doubles semi-final to set up a shot at the gold medal against China’s Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen, who had a 24-22, 21-13 win over Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik. Tai rallied from a game
‘BOSS CHARACTER’: Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin said they had ‘crawled out of hell’ and have nothing to lose in a match against the world’s No. 2 pairing Badminton duo Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin made history in Tokyo yesterday by becoming the first Taiwanese shuttlers to advance to an Olympics semi-final after they edged their Japanese rivals in the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles. The world No. 3 Taiwanese duo defeated Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe 21-16, 21-19 in 44 minutes at the Musashino Forest Plaza. By reaching the final four, the pair have recorded Taiwan’s best ever showing in Olympic badminton, surpassing a quarter-finals finish by Lee Sheng-mu and Fang Chieh-min in the men’s doubles at the London Games in 2012. After clinching the hard-earned victory, Lee dropped to
CLOSE CALL: In what was almost an upset, Brian Yang kept Chou Tien-chen on his toes for more than an hour, but the world No. 3 managed to hold on for the win Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying yesterday reminded the world why she is No. 1 when she had France’s Qi Xuefei struggling to match up through their 25-minute encounter. Tai, who beat Qi 21-10, 21-13, had a rough start to the Tokyo Olympics, taking longer to fend off two hugely inferior opponents earlier in the Games. The 27-year-old has a history of slipping up at the Olympics, despite performing exceptionally in other competitions. Tai, who became world No. 1 in 2016, has won the All England Open title three times and was a gold medalist at the 2018 Asian Games. “This is the first time I