After much deliberation with managers, broadcasting channels and their government, this week we see both football in Spain and Super Rugby in New Zealand return to our screens after months of no live action due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Spanish La Liga is back in action in Spain as of the 11th of June, after three months of suspension. The league is said to take place for the next six weeks until the 19th of July as they try and wrap up the much anticipated season. Although fans still cannot attend the games, the organisers have made alternative plans to keep fans entertained and players fit.
The use of audio fans and virtualisation of fans has been used in games to keep the same energy as if they were being watched in person by supporters. The same energy seems to translate with the players despite the empty stadiums and fan have the luxury to watch from the comfort of their couches. A win-win situation given the circumstances.
For our rugby lovers, New Zealand Super Rugby has returned albeit in domestic form. Referred to as Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa, the competition involves New Zealand’s five Super Rugby clubs – the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders – who will play each other at home and away over 10 weeks. In the opening weekend, the Highlanders will play the Chiefs in Dunedin on Saturday 13 June, with the Blues playing the Hurricanes in Auckland the following day.
With no active COVID-19 cases and one of the lowest records of deaths (22) from the virus, New Zealand is confident that they have made the right choice by bringing back both players and supporters to the field. Over 35 000 supporters are expected at the stadiums for the upcoming games.
However, it must be noted that New Zealand still has strict regulations when it comes to travel. Thus, the games against clubs in Japan, Argentina and Australia will be put on hold for now.
Both Rugby and Soccer fans are looking forward to being entertained once again by their favourite teams and more so to enjoy a degree of normality amidst the abnormality of our current global situation.