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Heartland kick-off delayed again

Former All Black Zac Guildford carries strongly in the pre-season clash with Wellington Samoans. Wai-Bush could now start their Heartland Championship against East Coast. PHOTOS/FILE

Hiatus to local sports events extended with drawn out lockdown

COVID-19

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

RUGBY

Farriers Wairarapa-Bush’s Heartland season looks likely to run until mid-November.

NZ Rugby announced on Wednesday that no rugby would be played in New Zealand for the second consecutive weekend because of the extension of the covid-19 level four restrictions.

NZR community rugby general manager Steve Lancaster said cancelling all rugby across the country this weekend was the only responsible option.

“It’s disappointing once again to keep our participants on the sidelines, but it’s the right thing to do under the circumstances,” Lancaster said.

“Although some parts of the country may be in a position to play on Saturday, teams would not have been able to train for two weeks which potentially creates player welfare issues.

“Clubs and schools would not have adequate time from midnight Friday to prepare to host games within government guidelines. So we will wait another week, and hopefully, rugby can play its part in helping the country stamp out this outbreak.”

Wai-Bush chief executive officer Tony Hargood said the covid-19 restrictions must move to level two before competition can get under way.

“One of the criteria is around health and safety for the players … and that can’t happen until level two,” Hargood said.

“It would great if we’re up and running around game four, which would be East Coast, and once we have a good indication of when level two is, we’ll be starting the Saturday following.

“All the Heartland CEOs and the feedback from the coaches across is pretty clear that they want to complete the competition, and a mid-November finish looks quite likely.”

Wai-Bush were to travel to Te Kuiti to play King Country on Saturday, followed by an away clash with Horowhenua-Kapiti in Levin.

With the likelihood of moving to level two restrictions remote, the King Country game will now be moved to the end of the round-robin, with the Horowhenua-Kapiti game likely to follow.

The home game on September 11 against East Coast was also planned to coincide with Wai-Bush’s 50th anniversary celebrations, which cannot go ahead if level two restrictions are in force.

Hargood said the union is also keen for the finals in the JAB Under-11s, Under-13s, Under-15s, and secondary school First XV competitions to be played. A decision on those games will be made later this week.

FOOTBALL

Wairarapa United players celebrate a goal against North Wellington. Will that be their last game of the season?

Capital Football again has postponed all senior football this weekend.

That could spell the end of the season in the Central League for Trust House Wairarapa United who were to play Lower Hutt City in the final round on Saturday.

Capital Football are working on how leagues that have yet to be completed or have yet to find definitive winners or promotion or relegation teams will conclude.

United are fifth in the league and cannot improve on that position, while Wellington Olympic have won the title, and Wainuiomata have been relegated. That could result in the final round not being be played.

At local league level, the Wairarapa Cup knockout competition is at the semifinal stage, and a decision is still to be made over its completion.

The season is over though for most junior and youth football, with all games cancelled this weekend.

Only the Under-17 Capital Development League will continue into September as it was planned to run throughout the month.

NETBALL

The Netball Wairarapa board were to hold a Zoom meeting yesterday to discuss the future of their competitions.

The premier and senior competitions still have one round to play, followed by semifinals and finals.

Development and competition co-ordinator Sandy Biel said the ideal would be to complete all competitions fully, but they can’t play any netball until level two.

She said that if necessary, the competitions can be extended until the end of September, but would need to be finished by the end of school term three.

SCHOOL SPORT

There’s disappointment for the region’s leading college players with news that School Sport NZ have cancelled the winter tournament week for the second consecutive year.

The biggest impact will be on senior students, who could miss out on representing their school in a national or regional tournament, and might not get another chance to do so.

Next month’s AIMS Games have also fallen victim to the covid-19 restrictions for the second straight year.

The games, held annually in Tauranga, are the biggest sporting event for 11- to 13-year-olds, attracting 11,000 athletes in 23 sports from 365 primary and intermediate schools.

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