Super Rugby in battle for ground time

Rugby Australia remains hopeful the Melbourne Rebels will be back home for an August 29 game at AAMI Park despite ongoing concern over COVID-19s escalation in both Victoria and NSW.

The Rebels will play a “home” game against the Waratahs next weekend, originally scheduled for Melbourne, at the SCG. But hopes of a return clash at AAMI Park in early August seem unlikely given Victoria remains on lockdown.

There have also been discussions among officials about moving all remaining Super Rugby AU games to Queensland should the escalating situation in NSW get any worse.

Three of the five Super Rugby AU teams are holed up in NSW, with the Rebels set to return to Canberra on Thursday, while the Western Force will remain in the Hunter Valley until the middle of August.

The Rebels will then return to Sydney next week for the clash at the SCG

It’s understood that while there is no expectation games in NSW won’t go ahead as planned there have been “other options” discussed to keep the season going.

Crowds will also still be allowed at the clash between the Waratahs and Brumbies at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, with up to 10,000 tickets to be made available. There could be as many as 15,000 at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night to watch the Reds play the Force.

But officials remain vigilant of the ever-changing landscape, which moved again on Tuesday afternoon hours after confirmation the Rebels would play their “home” game against the Waratahs at the SCG.

Rebels players will be playing more games in Sydney after last Friday’s clash at Brookvale Oval. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

A venue for the Rebels Round 6 clash with the Brumbies, which was also supposed to be played at AAMI Park, is yet to be confirmed.

Issues around ground availability, with the A-League also set to resume its season with all games in NSW, and suitability for broadcasters, are compounding the issue.

NSW Rugby CEO, Paul Doorn said flipping the schedule to allow the Rebels a home game in Sydney this week had to be done in the best interests of keeping the Super Rugby competition going.

“The Rebels are in a really difficult situation (with travel restrictions) and we sympathise with the challenges they’re currently facing on a number of fronts,” he added.

“We have a responsibility as a game to support them as best we can, and it was a great example of two clubs and Rugby Australia coming together to reach a beneficial outcome for the competition.”

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