Rugby AU confident travel exemptions will allow Super Rugby AU to continue as planned

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rugby Australia won't be rushing to reshuffle the Super Rugby AU schedule or relocate teams despite Queensland's declaration of Sydney as a coronavirus hot spot on Wednesday.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Wednesday that the greater Sydney area, a region that also encompasses the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains.

That classification puts not only the Waratahs but the Rebels, who relocated to the Central Coast last week, in a hot spot.

The Force are the only other team based in NSW but their base in the Hunter Valley and was not included in Wednesday's announcement.

Despite that news, Rugby Australia is believed to be confident that an existing travel exemption for all teams will allow the competition to continue as planned.

Teams were given dispensation to travel to Queensland at the start of the competition when the state's borders were completely closed, before opening up to all states bar Victoria on July 10.

Since then, NSW and Victoria have seen rises in coronavirus cases and clusters across their capital cities especially.

All teams are still adhering to fairly strict contact rules and are regularly tested for COVID-19 as part of biosecurity precautions.

Squads have been flying in and out of away games in one day to limit their contact with different environments, something that is set to continue.

The Reds are set to travel to Sydney in round six to take on the Waratahs at the SCG while the Rebels are scheduled to meet the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday August 15.

There was speculation that SCG match could be relocated outside of the Sydney area so Queensland's squad did not have to travel to a hot spot but at this stage, there aren't believed to be any concrete plans to move matches.

Super Rugby AU has already had to deal with changes in coronavirus restrictions, mainly due to the spike of cases in Victoria and border restrictions in WA.

The Rebels and the Force have both been relocated to hubs in NSW for the competition and the Rebels have relocated home matches to Sydney and swapped one fixture with the Waratahs.

Both the Rebels and Force have been playing their home matches in Sydney but venues for some of their later season matches are still to be finalised.

When Melbourne was declared a hotspot, the Queensland government released strict guidelines around sporting teams specifically but that advice does not appear to have been issued for the greater Sydney area.

Rugby Australia's approach has been similar to the NRL, whose teams were also given special permission to travel to Queensland earlier in the pandemic.

The AFL's two Sydney-based teams have taken the opposite approach, immediately flying up to Queensland to be based there along with the rest of the competition.

The Force take on the Rebels at Leichhardt Oval on Friday July 31, kicking off at 7:05pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here. Buy a Kayo subscription here.

The Reds take on the Brumbies on Saturday August 1 at GIO Stadium, Canberra, kicking off at 7:15pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here. Buy a Kayo subscription here.