An adapted version of Super Rugby will recommence with an Australian-only competition comprising five teams, including the Western Force, being planned.
The Perth-based Force were considered surplus to requirements in 2017 when they were axed from the competition. They have since been playing in Global Rapid Rugby and the National Rugby Championship.
The ABC reports the Force will rejoin the Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies, NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels in a new-look competition that will be back up and running by July at the earliest.
Global travel restrictions have put paid to the inclusion of the South African cohort of teams, along with Argentina’s Jaguares and Japan’s Sunwolves, while New Zealand has already announced its plans for its own local-only competition.
Similar to “Super Rugby Aotearoa”, the Australian competition is set to be a 10-week round-robin competition involving the five franchises, with no crowds.
Rugby Australia’s Return To Play committee has been meeting regularly to lay down plans for a new-look competition, while they have been absorbing knowledge from the NRL, which will resume later this month.
RA is giving Super Rugby clubs a Covid-19 education briefing this week, with players set to resume training on 18 May, giving them seven weeks ahead of a Friday 3 July start.
While the NRL will have less than three weeks of contact training, rugby believes its players – particularly tight forwards – need more lead-in time with the proposed dateline giving them a month.
The 2020 Super Rugby season was suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak in mid-March, after just seven rounds of play had been completed.