Three Auckland teams are set to pull out of the NPC after their latest request for an exemption to travel was rejected.
Earlier this week Auckland, Counties Manukau and North Harbour lodged their third request to base themselves outside the Super City in secure bubbles in order to compete in the remainder of the NPC but with that exemption rejected on Wednesday night, the three teams have been left with no option but to pull the pin on their respective seasons.
Players and management were informed of the news on Thursday morning.
The three teams last played on the weekend of August 14 and under Auckland's Alert Level 3 restrictions have only recently been permitted to train in bubbles of 10.
Attention will swiftly turn to the compromised integrity of this year's NPC, and whether promotion-relegation should take place between the Premiership and Championship competitions.
The other major issue is who will foot the bill for player contracts.
The Herald understands Auckland is staring down the barrel of a $1 million loss, while Counties Manukau and North Harbour are believed to be contemplating losses of up to $400,000 which threatens to tip those unions over the edge.
The conclusion of Auckland's season also robs former Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck the chance to begin his transition to rugby union.
Tuivasa-Sheck left the Warriors early to give himself a full NPC season to start his reintegration to union but will now be forced to jump straight into Super Rugby Pacific with the Blues next year.
- More to come.