Professional rugby in New Zealand celebrated its comeback on Saturday, June 13, with the meeting between the Otago Highlanders and the Waikato Chiefs.

More than 20,000 spectators attended the victory of the local franchise, making this meeting the first major sporting event in the world to have taken place with an audience authorized to come without restriction to fill the stands of a stadium since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic in mid-March

The party was beautiful and the suspense at the rendezvous: a minute before the end, Bryn Gatland, who came into play a few minutes earlier, offered a drop victory over the wire to the Highlanders 28 to 27.

This meeting inaugurated Super Rugby Aotearoa, a version of Super Rugby "confined" to New Zealand, pitting the five local franchises of Super rugby, the annual competition usually bringing together teams from the four major nations of the Southern Hemisphere - New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina.

With Carter's congratulations

This great comeback was greeted by one of the great stars of New Zealand rugby, the opener Dan Carter, double world champion (2011, 2015): "Bravo New Zealand. Professional sport live there is only a few minutes, "he tweeted right after the final whistle.

Congratulations New Zealand! Live professional sport with a crowd only minutes away. What do you enjoy the most about being at Level 1?

- Dan Carter (@DanCarter) June 13, 2020

Many sports competitions had already resumed before this Super Rugby Aotearoa, but behind closed doors or with a limited number of spectators.

Spectators appreciated finding their way to the stadium in New Zealand, a country of 5 million inhabitants largely spared by the pandemic (22 deaths) and which lifted the last restrictions on Monday.

"It's so good to be here. It's the first time I've come to see a rugby match," said Pauline, stressing that no matter the sport, she relishes the exhilaration of taking a bath again. crowd.

"Watching live rugby with a crowd in the stadium is something I didn't expect to see anytime soon," Kaunda Ntunja, a South African television commentator, tweeted.

Watching live rugby with a crowd at the stadium is something I didn't think I would see anytime soon. I'm bloody happy. I'm sure rugby fans all over the world have the same feeling right now.

- Kaunda Ntunja (@kaundantunja) June 13, 2020

On the ground, the show was at the height of the event. With a nice wink at the end of the match: Bryn Gatland gave the victory to the Highlanders at the expense of the Chiefs, whose coach is his ... father, Warren, former coach of the XV of Wales and the Lions British.

With AFP

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