Australia's Super Rugby competition is planning for an early July return, a spokesman said today, after the coronavirus outbreak derailed the season and sparked turmoil within the sport's cash-strapped governing body.

Rugby Australia's board suffered another tumultuous week with new director Peter Wiggs - who had been tipped to take over the chairman's role - quitting after just five weeks in the job. 

His departure followed the resignation last month of chief executive Raelene Castle after pressure from the board and a simmering financial crisis. 

Clubs are set to begin training in the coming days under strict health regulations aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 among players, the spokesman said. 

"We do not have a confirmed date for the resumption of Super Rugby in Australia, however early July presents a best-case scenario," he added.

This year's Super Rugby competition saw seven rounds played before the pandemic forced a stop to the season in March.

The modified domestic fixtures will not include matches against international opponents but will reportedly see the return of the Perth-based Western Force, which left the top flight competition in 2017. 

New Zealand has also announced its own domestic competition for its five teams playing over 10 rounds in closed stadiums.

The Pro14 domestic competition for teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy could still be restarted but would definitely be curtailed, Scottish Rugby Union chief operating officer Dominic McKay said this week.

Under Irish government guidelines, the provinces could theoretically be back in action behing closed doors by 10 August. 

Outgoing Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie has already stated that he believes it is time to call time on the season and declare unbeaten Leinster champions.

The Covid-19 shutdown has intensified financial strains on Rugby Australia, which was already struggling after reaching a multi-million dollar settlement with star try-scorer Israel Folau over his sacking for homophobic comments.

It reported a provisional Aus$9.4 million (€5.6m) operating deficit last year and has laid off 75 percent of staff to cut costs during the coronavirus emergency.