SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Melbourne Rebels have been forced to look at venues outside Victoria for their home Super Rugby AU match against the Reds on July 10 after the Queensland government imposed strict quarantine measures on sports teams on Monday.
Australia recorded its biggest one-day rise in novel coronavirus infections in more than two months on Monday with Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, accounting for 75 of the 85 new cases.
Queensland, which reported no new cases, immediately imposed a 14-day quarantine requirement for any sports team from the state which played against a Melbourne side or in the populous southern city.
The Rebels were scheduled to host the Queensland Reds in the second round of Super Rugby AU, which kicks off this weekend to relaunch an Australian season suspended in March by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anticipating the possibility of such a move by Queensland, the Rebels relocated to Canberra last Friday for their opening round match against the ACT Brumbies.
“By 10 July, all Rebels players and staff will have been out of Victoria for the required 14 days to ensure that the Reds do not require to quarantine upon their return to Queensland after the match,” the club said in a statement on Monday.
“The Melbourne Rebels can confirm that we are currently evaluating alternative venues in NSW (New South Wales) to host our Round 2 match against the Queensland Reds.”
The club said the 50 players and coaching staff in the party have been undergoing “periodic COVID testing” with no positive results so far.
The new Queensland quarantine rules look likely to cause fixture chaos in other Australian professional sports with rugby league, soccer, netball and cricket also impacted.
Australian Rules is likely to be worst affected as 10 of the 18 teams in the elite Australian Football League (AFL) are based in Melbourne.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford