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Super Rugby Aotearoa A Big Hit, NZR Cuts Quarter Of Staff

New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa competition has recorded a 105% fan increase compared to the initial seven rounds of the 2020 Super Rugby season, along with social engagement rising 266%.

The first four games on the New Zealand-clubs only Super Rugby competition, which was announced in May after COVID-19 forced Super Rugby to suspend the 2020 season, recorded an average of more than 26,000 people in attendance, more than double the first seven rounds of the Super Rugby season before its suspension.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) revealed the average attendance statistics alongside social engagement figures for the new tournament, indicated a 266% rise over the last two weeks in comparison to the first seven rounds of Super Rugby 2020, reaching a total 2.5 million engagements.

NZR chief executive officer, Mark Robinson, said broadcast figures are also up 88%, with the figures expected to rise even further as the competition gains more attention.

“It’s brilliant news,” Robinson said.

“There is a real excitement building and we have some real momentum,” he said.

Despite the early success of the new competition, NZR has announced it has cut a quarter of its staff, totalling 40 job losses.

These cuts are half the number the organisation predicted it would have to cut last month, with NZR’s chief operating officer, Nicki Nicol, predicting a 70% decline in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s fair to say that rugby resuming means that the cuts, staff numbers, aren’t as harsh as first feared… [but] it’s still incredibly hard to say goodbye to people that have given such a huge amount to the game within our organisation and love the game and have been hugely committed to it,” Robinson said.

“I wish them well in the future.

“There haven’t been areas that haven’t been impacted,” he said.