Surge in COVID-19 cases in Victoria forces changes on eve of Super Rugby AU kick-off
The Rebels relocated to Canberra last Friday ahead of their opening clash with the Brumbies at GIO Stadium next Saturday night.
Aware that the Queensland government was looking to tighten restrictions around Victorian sports teams due to the coronavirus spike in Melbourne, the players were given 48 hours’ notice to prepare for the shift.
But it means they moved in time for their round two opponents, the Queensland Reds, to avoid any quarantine sanctions for playing against a team that has been in Melbourne in the preceding 14 days.
The Rebels announced on Monday that they had shifted that second round July 10 match, originally slated for AAMI Park, to NSW, with Leichhardt Oval or Brookvale Oval possible options.
With their next Queensland match not until round seven in August, Melbourne are hopeful they can return home after round two but it’s dependent on the level of coronavirus in Melbourne.
With Rugby Australia’s financial future hanging on the competition and accompanying broadcast money, the Rebels will do whatever it takes to ensure play continues.
Western Force are also set to relocate to NSW due to tight border restrictions in their home state.
Rebels centre Billy Meakes says the team were used to travelling for a block during a usual Super Rugby season, so weren’t treating it any differently.
“We don’t know too much about the finer details of where we will be going or playing but I don’t know there’s too much concern at the moment,” Meakes said on Monday.
“It’s out of our hands … safety is the number one priority for everyone in the competition and we’re just trying to make do and get back on the pitch.”
“I think the overriding emotion is excitement about playing.
“There’s uncertainty around where we’ll be in the coming weeks but one thing that is certain is we’re playing the Brumbies but it’s just super exciting to be back out there playing Super Rugby.”
The match against the Brumbies will be played in front of a small crowd, with the ACT government permitting some fans into the stadium
Meakes said it would be tough opening against the team that were the Australian conference pace-setters before the Super Rugby was shut down after seven rounds.
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