The Melbourne Rebels will relocate to Canberra this morning, Friday 26 June, ahead of their opening Super Rugby AU clash with the Brumbies next Saturday 4 July.
The Rebels’ move to the capital follows the NRL’s Melbourne Storm relocating to NSW indefinitely and the AFL making moves to establish hub systems in WA and Tasmania to reduce the number of games played in Victoria from next month.
The Rebels playing group and staff were most recently tested for COVID-19 on Monday, and all returned negative results. The Melbourne Rebels underwent additional testing yesterday, Thursday 25 June, prior to flying out to Canberra today. The results of those tests are yet to be known.
Rebels captain Dane Haylett-Petty said the playing group will be “flexible and willing to adapt” to the travel demands given the circumstances.
“We’d obviously hoped to stay at home and keep preparing but we knew this was a possibility with the situation in Victoria with COVID at the moment,” he said.
“One of the positives to come out of it is it’s always good spending time together on a tour and at the moment it’s just a two-week tour which is quite standard for us,” he said.
A call is yet to be made on where the Rebels will be based following their Brumbies clash, however Haylett-Petty confirmed their scheduled round two home match against the Reds would likely be moved away from Melbourne with the recent news.
“I know it’s evolving, things change every day, but I think we’ll play our game against the Reds away somewhere in Canberra or Sydney and then we have the bye,” he said.
Melbourne Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson said constructive dialogue with Rugby AU, SANZAAR and RUPA led to an agreement that decisive action to move to Canberra was required following Victoria’s COVID-19 outbreak.
“We are committed to keeping our people safe and healthy in accordance with government advice and regulations. At the same time, we will do all that we can to ensure the successful delivery of the Super Rugby AU competition,” he said.
Between 1,000 and 1,500 spectators will be permitted to attend the Brumbies opening home fixture of the Super Rugby AU season against the Melbourne Rebels at GIO Stadium Canberra on 4 July.
Paying Brumbies members are being contacted via email and will have the opportunity to enter into a ballot system for tickets, from which the permitted number of spectators will be drawn at random.
A limited number of corporate hospitality attendees will also be permitted under ACT COVID-19 restrictions.
More attendees are likely to be allowed in ground for the Brumbies second home fixture against the Reds on 1 August, subject to further easing of restrictions by the ACT Government.
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