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Rugby-Australia bars Super players from club rugby due to COVID-19

MELBOURNE, June 5 (Reuters) - Australia’s top rugby players will be barred from turning out for lower-grade clubs during the domestic “Super Rugby AU” competition to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, administrators said on Friday.

Australia’s contracted players often compete for sides in their home districts to keep fit if not selected for their Super Rugby teams but they will not be able to do so during the domestic competition slated for July-September.

“The collective decision has been made by Rugby Australia and the Super Rugby teams in accordance with agreed bio-security measures which have been signed off by the various Government health agencies,” Rugby Australia said in a statement on Friday.

“It has been agreed by teams that this practice in the current environment, where we are still seeing some evidence of community spread, would significantly compromise the team environment and possibly the competition.”

The Super Rugby AU competition is set to kick off on July 3, pending broadcasters’ approval.

The broader Super Rugby competition, which includes teams from New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, was suspended in March due to flight restrictions and border controls aimed at containing COVID-19.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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