Professional rugby union returned back to action today after a three-month Covid-19 break as the Otago Highlanders won the match against the Waikato Chiefs 28-27 in the opener of New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.

With a crowd of about 20,000 at the game, which was also broadcasted on a global television to the audience at home.

Fans were allowed into the stadium to watch the opening weekend of New Zealand’s new domestic rugby union competition after the country lifted virtually all coronavirus restrictions.

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern earlier said the country would move to Level 1 restrictions from midnight after no new cases of Covid-19 were recorded for 22 days.

It means all restrictions on mass gatherings was lifted .

The 2020 Super Rugby season – comprising teams from Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa – was postponed in March due to the pandemic.

New Zealand and Australia have both set up tournaments featuring their Super Rugby teams, with the New Zealand version opening with a clash between the Highlanders and Chiefs on Saturday evening in Dunedin.

There was no restrictions on the size of crowds for the first weekend of matches at Otago Regional Stadium in Dunedin today and at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday.

This is the only sport that has fans at full capacity watching games live at the stadium as there are no social distancing rules in New Zealand.