Kiwi Super Rugby side the Blues have been forced to delete a tweet about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after backlash from fans.
The Blues’ social media department were slammed on Thursday over a tweet reacting to Ardern’s announcement that New Zealand will soon ease coronavirus restrictions.
Professional rugby and netball are close to returning to action in New Zealand after the government unveiled its rules for sport when the country next eases restrictions.
Ardern on Thursday announced a range of new societal rules that will apply when the country moves from alert level three to level two, including changes to professional and community sport.
The announcement was enormous for rugby and netball, the country's two professional winter competitions which have suffered significant financial damage.
And the Blues wanted to express their excitement on social media, writing: “That feeling when Aunty Cindy says you can play footy again in level 2.”
However their use of the moniker ‘Aunty Cindy’ caused outrage.
The controversial nickname is largely used by trolls and critics of Ardern as a derogatory put-down.
“What a tone deaf trash tweet from the @BluesRugbyTeam,” one fan replied.
“Show some grace to the person that holds the position of Prime Minister.”
Another wrote: “Show a bit of respect.”
While another added: “Geez just how disrespectful.”
Geez just how disrespectful. Can the Blues find someone else able to work their social media accounts?— Ferg Campbell (@OtagoLad) May 7, 2020
She is the Prime Minister NOT your Aunty - respect— Lea Cowley (@LeaCowley) May 7, 2020
Bloody disgusting and disgraceful - the woman is the pm for gods sake- not someone to rubbish— Russ (@Russ15228883) May 7, 2020
Um, no Jacinda deserves respect 🙄— Trevor Ashman (@kiwi4you) May 7, 2020
Her name is not Cindy and it is disrespectful and a gender put down.— Jeff (@JTRLtd) May 7, 2020
Officials unveil plans for ‘Super Rugby Aotearoa’
Cabinet will announce a date on Monday for the shift to alert level two, which could happen as soon as Wednesday.
With international travel curtailing a return to Super Rugby proper, Kiwi bosses unveiled their plan for “Super Rugby Aotearoa”, a bespoke 10-week competition featuring their five franchises.
The competition could begin as early as mid-June, after a three-to-four week training period to have the players ready for contact.
Teams last played in mid-March, when Super Rugby was halted after seven rounds.
SANZAAR has given clearance for the competition, which will see the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders playing each other home and away, with two matches each weekend.
NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson confirmed all matches will be in closed stadiums.
“We're delighted for our fans that in a best-case scenario we will have top-quality rugby back on our screens next month,” he said.
“I know the players would prefer to be playing in front of our fans, but the health and safety of Kiwis must come first.”
Robinson said a decision on the viability of the All Blacks' home Tests against Wales and Scotland will be made in the next fortnight.
SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said rugby fans globally would be excited that action could restart in about a month and indicated Australia was ready to create a similar local competition to that of its trans-Tasman neighbour when its national restrictions are eased.
“We have known for some time that once the green light is given to recommence playing (in any of our territories) that a revised Super Rugby competition format would have to be implemented,” he said.
“This will mean a strong domestic focus in each territory given the travel, border and government restrictions that we will have to adhere to.”