Super Rugby Aotearoa has been given the all clear to have fans in attendance when the competition kicks off on June 13th.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has confirmed there will be no limit on crowd numbers when the Highlanders play the Chiefs in Dunedin on Saturday June 13th and the Blues host the Hurricanes at Eden Park the following day.
It followed the news announced by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that the country was moving to Alert Level 1, lifting all restrictions on mass gatherings including at stadiums.
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said: "It is a testament to all New Zealanders that we are in a position to lift restrictions on mass gatherings and it’s a massive boost for Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa.
"We’re incredibly proud, and grateful, to be the first professional sports competition in the world to be in a position to have our teams play in front of their fans again.
"It’s going to be a very special and unique competition and it’s fitting that New Zealanders now have a chance to be part of it."
NZR Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum confirmed that the return of crowds meant kick off times would now change for the competition – now 7.05pm (8.05am Irish time) for Saturday games and 3.35pm (4.35am Irish time) for Sunday games.
Lendrum said: "With the return of community sport, we wanted to give our many fans involved in Saturday sport time to finish up their games, get ready to head out, and then across town to our venues.
"We’re excited to be able to provide some daytime Sunday rugby in 2020.
"With the change to Level 1 our teams can now prepare normally for matches, rather than asking them to fly in and out on match day."
Super Rugby Aotearoa is a 10-week competition involving New Zealand’s five Super Rugby clubs – the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders – playing each other home and away.
There will be two matches every weekend in a domestic competition that was set up when the season was suspended on March 15th due to Covid-19 restrictions.