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District responds

Widespread postponements and cancellations.

Rugby in Poverty Bay has been postponed for three weeks, netball won't start before May and Saturday's speedway is off, as efforts to contain the coronavirus ramp up.

New Zealand Rugby decided last night to halt all club and community rugby until April 18.

That followed Netball New Zealand's decision to postpone all winter competitions until at least May 2.

Pre-season programmes, tournaments, workshops and other community competitions, including social leagues, will be halted.

The announcements followed guidance issued by the Government this week that events attracting more than 500 people should be called off to limit spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union posted a message on Facebook last night advising that all contact rugby, including contact training, was “restricted”.

“Obviously, this has a huge impact, not only on our players but also the many coaches and club and school volunteers involved in our game,” the post said.

“While this decision has a huge impact on our rugby community, the impacts of Covid-19 are not selective — it is widespread and impacting everyone. It is important we support each other through these challenging times and come up with practical and positive solutions together.”

New Zealand Rugby said full-contact training could start on April 13 “at this stage” — a position that appears to rule out pre-season games.

Ngati Porou East Coast Rugby Union was to discuss the implications of the postponement with club delegates, coaches and administrators this morning.

The Gisborne Netball Centre board met last night.

“The courts will not be open for any training or further netball sessions until four weeks before our start date,” centre manager Allisa Hall said.

“All Year 1 to 6 coaching workshops are also postponed.”

Gisborne Speedway Club has postponed its meeting planned for this Saturday night.

Eastland Group Raceway was to host the Metalco Teams Demolition Derby.

“We also had a contingent of out-of-town stockcars coming, along with saloons and sidecars to support those classes,” club president Clyde McGrory said.

“It‘s disappointing to have to call it off, but we totally respect the safety of our fans, our drivers and the community in general at this difficult time.”

McGrory said they hoped to run the meeting during winter.

The April 3-4 final meeting may go ahead.

“We are mindful of the health crisis and will make a decision on that final meeting nearer the time.

“If we are unable to run it, we will stage it in late October as an introduction to the 2020-21 season.”

All events on the School Sport NZ national calendar have been suspended.

Impact on sporting community may be 'far-reaching'

Rowing's Maadi Cup, which was to start on March 30 at Lake Ruataniwha, is one big casualty.

The North Island and South Island Secondary Schools Athletics Championships scheduled for April 4 and 5 have been cancelled.

Senior representative Tairawhiti softball sides were to take the field next week in fixtures against New Zealand Defence Force teams but the tour has been cancelled.

The softball tour was to double as a recruitment drive for the Defence Force on the East Coast but was cancelled on health and safety grounds.

It would have been the first time in years that Tairawhiti senior representative sides had got on the park and it now won't happen before next summer.

The Defence Force hopes to run the tour next season.

Tairawhiti senior softball club finals are due to go ahead at Waikirikiri Park on Saturday.

The women's final is to start at 11am and the men's final at 3pm — the difference in timing was designed to limit crowd numbers.

A national secondary schools second-division softball tournament at Hastings, due to start on March 31, has been called off.

Gisborne Boys' High School and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Whatatutu had entered the tournament.

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chief executive Stefan Pishief said the impact of the coronavirus on the sporting community may be far-reaching, as codes and clubs follow the Government's advice to postpone or cancel large-scale events.

“We are commending these codes and clubs for heeding this call to keep our community safe, even though for many, this will come at a great cost.”

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti cancelled the Gisborne Herald Quarter Marathon and Fun Run that was scheduled for April 26.

“If there is a chance to reschedule the marathon for later in the year, then we will explore that possibility,” Pishief said.

“However, there's too much uncertainty at the moment to start planning around a new date.”

The Gisborne Primary School Events Committee has cancelled all events for the rest of Term 1.

“Some sports are continuing to run their leagues at the moment while others have postponed their seasons,” Pishief said.

“There's the disappointment for our community in not being able to take part in activities that they love and that keep them healthy, and holding events and running sporting leagues can also be a critical source of income for our sporting bodies in Tairawhiti.

“We implore funders to continue their support of our sporting bodies during these challenging times.

“This is a challenging time for the sporting sector, and along with the wider community, we need to support one another through this.”

Planning an Olympics campaign is difficult at the best of times and triathletes such as Gisborne's Tayler Reid have had preparations disrupted this year.

Triathlon New Zealand performance manager Stephen Sheldrake said they were carrying on as best they could in trying circumstances.

Sheldrake, based in Gisborne, said Kiwi triathletes would be training in New Zealand's winter for a July and August Olympics expected to be hot and humid in Japan.

Planned camps overseas have been called off.

The Mooloolaba Triathlon in Queensland last weekend turned out to be the New Zealanders' last chance to impress the selectors in competition, as further events have been cancelled.

New Zealand have been successful in racking up enough points to have a team qualify for the Olympics.

Sheldrake said he was working on “Plans B, C and D” for the Kiwi triathletes, assuming the Olympics went ahead.

“It's uncertain times for everyone.”

Another Gisborne athlete planning a stint in Japan, rugby player Renee Holmes, is playing a waiting game.

She went to Japan in March last year to play sevens for the Hokkaido Barbarians and was to return this year but there's no confirmation yet that the tournament will proceed.

Tairawhiti has crews preparing for the waka ama sprint world championships at Hawaii in August.

The most recent announcement from the International Va'a Federation about Covid-19 was on March 10, when the federation declared it had no plans to postpone or cancel the event.

Central Football and other federations were in discussions with NZ Football this morning to work out their response to Covid-19.

POSTPONED: Kelvin Smith dots down for Waikohu against High School Old Boys during last year's first round of Poverty Bay club rugby. This year's competition has been postponed until April 18. Pictures by Paul Rickard
MAY 2020 START: Whangara Old Girls player Nadia Taare (left) and High School Old Girls' Kelly Swann-Ferris compete for the ball in last year's Gisborne netball final. Club netball won't start before May this year.