Winter sports return to the fields after Covid-19 restrictions ease –

Winter sporting codes will tentatively resume their seasons now most of the country has been freed from the clutches of Covid-19 alert level 3.
New Zealand, apart from the Auckland region, moves into level 2 on Wednesday, meaning community and professional sport is able to start again.
In Manawatū most winter codes were nearing the end of their seasons and should be able to finish off now, but no spectators will be allowed under level 2.
Some sports are starting again next weekend, although Hockey Manawatū will be back in action this weekend, under restrictions, with the last round of its junior hockey competition. Games are staggered across Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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The senior club competition will resume with semifinals next weekend and a revised secondary schools draw will be done in the next few days.
General manager Neil Ulrich said the twin turfs would be split into separate areas, which would have dedicated entries and exits. Only 100 people will be allowed in each area.
People must scan in with the QR code and wear a mask inside the pavilion.
Ulrich said the association’s experience from running a secondary schools tournament during alert level 2 last year had paid off with preparation this time.
Professional rugby will start next weekend, with the Farah Palmer Cup, national provincial championship and Heartland Championship, outside of Auckland, to resume. A revised draw for each competition will be released soon.
All levels of rugby can start training again under level two, but New Zealand Rugby won’t start matches next weekend so players have time to prepare to return to play.
New Zealand Rugby is making plans for Auckland, North Harbour and Counties Manukau teams to play catch-up matches later in the season, subject to the area moving to alert level 2.
Manawatū Rugby League’s Lawrence Erihe said the board was meeting on Tuesday night to decide how to operate in level 2.
It is likely the club competition will resume next weekend. The final week of the round-robin has been scrapped and the top four teams will play the semifinals.
There will be a challenge at the code’s home ground Coronation Park, which is unable to be fenced off, so games may have to be moved elsewhere. Erihe was working on plans now.
“We’re all about making sure we abide by the guidelines. We don’t want to be the code that wrecks it for everyone else.”
What happens with the rep programme is to be confirmed.
Basketball Manawatū is also grappling with venue challenges. General manager Mike Ryan said they were waiting for guidance from Sport New Zealand on indoor facilities because of the “Delta curve ball”.
Games are played in Arena 4, which is a large facility but is counted as one venue, so only 50 people are allowed in at a time.
Ryan was confident of finishing their winter leagues though, with only playoffs to go.
He was disappointed the national secondary schools championships will no longer go ahead in Palmerston North with Auckland in level 4 and the tournament would have to be played before term four.
Netball Manawatū general manager Chris Gunn said the centre would announce its plans on Wednesday because it was working through the regulations.
Netball New Zealand had cancelled the national open championships, which had been scheduled for Palmerston North this week. It will instead be held in the city next year, Gunn said.
New Zealand Football is rewriting its participation guidelines and will announce the changes shortly.
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