Women's and men's rugby is very popular in New Zealand. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

20,000 fans pack stands for Super Rugby in 'coronavirus-free' New Zealand

Rugby fans in New Zealand packed the stands on Saturday to watch the Otago Highlanders take on the Waikato Chiefs in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, and it probably wasn't such a great idea.

An estimated 20,000 fans attended the match at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, according to CNN, and not many people wore masks despite coronavirus concerns across the globe. Fans acted like everything was normal, even hugging each other and cheering in excitement as Otago won 28-27.

New Zealand lifted nearly all of its coronavirus restrictions earlier this week as no new cases have been reported for more than 20 days and the death toll is at just 22 in the country since the pandemic started.

The lifted restrictions have allowed large crowds to return to stadiums and the 50,000 capacity Eden Park is expected to be full when the Auckland Blues host the Wellington Hurricanes on Sunday.

The main Super Rugby tournament between Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan was paused in mid-March due to the pandemic.

When professional sports return in the United States, stadiums will be empty and only essential personnel will be allowed in attendance.

Erin Walsh is a Boston sports fan through and through. Although many think Boston sports fans are insufferable, Erin tries to see things from a neutral perspective. Her passion is hockey, and she believes defense wins championships. In addition to covering sports for Yardbarker, she covers Boston sports for NBC Sports Boston. Follow her on Twitter @ewalsh90

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