Marlborough’s community sporting landscape was effectively wiped clean by the coronavirus pandemic scare last week.
Sport at all levels was either postponed, put on long-term hold or simply cancelled as most sporting bodies reacted to directives from national bodies and government pressure to reduce the number of people gathering in one place and the likelihood of contracting the virus.
Mainstream sports such as rugby, football, cricket, hockey and netball all issued statements outlining the drastic measures employed to protect their communities and those surrounding them in the coming month or so as the nation battles to keep the virus under control.
Rugby and netball were first to react, announcing on Tuesday that their sports, at community level, would be postponed.
New Zealand Rugby postponed all club and community rugby until Saturday, 18 April.
That postponement included all rugby matches, although non-contact training activities can continue, at least in the short term, while NZ Rugby continues to monitor the situation with the Ministry of Health.
School rugby and, in most cases, junior club rugby competitions start in early May and are therefore unaffected by the postponement at this stage.
The only rugby currently being played in Marlborough is the Tasman Trophy competition which began across the top of the south on March 14. As it stands, the competition is set to miss out on at least four rounds of play, although the Tasman union are currently looking at alternatives.
At this stage, full-contact training can resume from Monday, April 13.
Meanwhile, Netball New Zealand and the country’s five netball zones decided to postpone all winter competitions until at least Saturday, May 2.
The advisory from NNZ includes the postponement of pre-season programmes, tournaments, workshops and other community competitions, including social leagues that are currently in progress.
Those involved with community netball, including umpires, players, officials, and committees are being encouraged to conduct any essential meetings online whenever possible.
Any clubs or schools in the process of trialling, naming teams and commencing trainings are to also postpone until four weeks before the start of their competition, or the first week in April at the earliest.
Marlborough’s netball competitions are scheduled to begin in on May 2, with premier play starting on May 5.
A pre-season tournament planned for April 5 has been cancelled, plus rep trials and the scheduled school holiday programme.
A day later, more grassroots sports felt the bite of Covid-19 as football, hockey and cricket released statements regarding their immediate future.
All Marlborough club football competitions are cancelled or postponed until Saturday, May 2.
All Marlborough Football programmes, Futsal, NZF Football Skills Centres, Tasman United Academy and holiday programmes are cancelled and will resume in term 2 from Tuesday, April 28.
Club trainings are also cancelled, but can resume after April 18 – two weeks prior to the start of the new season.
Marlborough hockey also took action. Hockey Marlborough postponed the College trials/muster that were to be held last week and on March 25, then cancelled the planned pre-season mixed club competition and the interschool summer hockey competition.
Their statement said, “The well-being of our players, coaches, umpires, volunteers, supporters and the wider New Zealand community is our top priority. And, while this will be disappointing for many, postponing hockey for the time being is in everyone’s best interests.”
While the Marlborough Cricket Association are obviously at the tail-end of their season, they are also impacted.
Following advice from NZ Cricket, they decided to cancel the remaining cricket games and programmes for this summer.
This includes the second grade Challenge Cup final, age group development games, Yeah Girls Hubs, Superstar Academy Programme and school visits scheduled for term 1.
Other sports affected include harriers, who postponed their season for “an unknown period of time”, plus Bowls Marlborough who cancelled scheduled champion of champion events in line with a Bowls NZ edict that all organised bowling events for the season be cancelled.
The forthcoming Maadi Cup regatta was cancelled early last week, effectively ending the season for the region’s college rowers.
Following direction from Tennis NZ, the Marlborough Tennis Association has cancelled all organised competition until at least May 2. That covers all interclub competition, organised club tournaments and events, organised affiliate tournaments and events, plus organised midweek competition and club nights as well as the local High Performance training programme.
Four sports based at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000, which was shut down at 5pm on Sunday, have also made other plans.
Marlborough Volleyball decided to cancel their Thursday night competition last week after Government restrictions limiting gathering to less than 100 people were announced.
Swimming Nelson Marlborough, which includes the Blenheim Swim Club, have decided that all SNM meets until the end of April will be cancelled.
Marlborough Basketball have no competitions running at the moment and are monitoring the situation regards rep team trainings.
The Marlborough Squash Club met yesterday to decide what their approach would be.
Marlborough waterpolo is cancelled until next term at the earliest. All NZ waterpolo is on hold or cancelled until further notice, including the Pan Pacs which were scheduled for July.
Marlborough table tennis, which is played a t Simcox Stadium on Batty’s Rd, have postponed the start of their season, a decision which will be reviewed in May. The Marlborough Open scheduled for May 16-17 has been postponed.
Things are also quietening down on the water. The Queen Charlotte Yacht Club has suspended all organised club activities until further notice, including weekend club racing and all coaching.
At this stage the Waikawa Boating Club are proceeding with the race programme, but any social gatherings around this are likely to be severely curtailed. Today sees the last race of the summer series and it’s likely that the winter series will be rescheduled in some way.
Along with the above competition closures, two high-profile social sporting events have been postponed – the Whitehaven GrapeRide, rescheduled until February 27, 2021, and the Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon, which will now take place on May 8, 2021.