SYDNEY: The venue for next week's Super Rugby AU match between the Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies has been switched to Canberra Stadium because of travel restrictions in place at the border of the state of Western Australia.
The March 6 match was scheduled to be a home game for the Rebels but restrictions mean that having been in Melbourne, the team would not have been able to travel on to Perth to play a fixture against Western Force the next week.
Western Australia imposed travel restrictions on people who have been to the Rebels' home state of Victoria two weeks ago after a small outbreak in Melbourne of the variant of COVID-19 associated with Britain.
The Rebels spent the entirety of last season on the road because of travel restrictions and were forced to make a midnight dash for the border in a 40-car convoy two weeks ago ahead of the snap coronavirus lockdown in their home state.
Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson told The Australian on Tuesday that the long spells away from home were starting to become a significant issue for the team.
"I don't want to dramatise or catastrophise anything but it is real, the pressure on wives, partners and kids," he told the newspaper.
"I was with the team for five days and, I won't lie, I have talked about it with my board, I am really concerned about the wellbeing of some of our people."
The reverse fixture between the Rebels and the Brumbies on April 18 will now be played at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium instead of the Australian capital.
"We were more than happy to agree in swapping our home and away matches to ensure the competition was not disrupted," Brumbies chief executive Phil Thomson said in a statement.
The Rebels open their 2021 campaign against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Friday.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)