Tick, tock ... time runs out to find a Super Rugby 2020 winner
Garrin Lambley - Sport24 Editor
The Super Rugby trophy will have no 2020 winner etched on it as the deadly coronavirus sweeping the world takes understandable precedence.
Register your interest for the British & Irish Lions tickets in South Africa 2021
On Wednesday, SA Rugby suspended all rugby until the end of April, in line with government's policies and objectives on stemming the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That SA Rugby decision alone rules out the tournament concluding on time as Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos is on record as saying if the tournament didn't resume within five weeks of its suspension (March 13-15 after Round 7), there simply wouldn't be enough time to find a winner.
A break in play until the end of April (re-starting at the earliest on the weekend of May 1/2 with what should've been Round 14) would mean a seven-week gap.
While New Zealand and Australia have both indicated they plan on continuing to train behind closed doors, both countries on Thursday confirmed they would be closing their borders to non-residents.
While some derbies matches in each country may go ahead in time, they will merely serve as preparation for the mid-year incoming tours - should they go ahead - with their scheduled 4 July start date, a fortnight after the Super Rugby final.
As things stand in 2020, the Sharks top the overall log on 24 points, albeit having played one match more than both the second-placed Australian Conference leaders, the Brumbies (23), and the third-placed New Zealand Conference top side, the Crusaders (23).
The 2020 Super Rugby tournament is the 25th since the first edition back in 1996.
New Zealand sides have triumphed on 17 occasions, with all five of their sides having tasted success: Crusaders (10), Blues (3), Chiefs (2), Hurricanes and Highlanders (1 apiece).
The Brumbies (2), Waratahs and Reds (1 each) have handed Australia glory over the years, while the Bulls (3) are the only SA winners to date.