New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has confirmed the Gallagher Chiefs v Melbourne Rebels Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match on Sunday, 6 June will be moved from Hamilton to Sydney.
The Round 5 match was originally scheduled to be played at FMG Stadium Waikato, but due to on-going uncertainty around the Rebels ability to travel to New Zealand, the match will instead be played at Leichardt Oval in Sydney.
The match will kick off at 5pm NZT (3pm AEST) on Sunday, 6 June and will be live and exclusive on Sky TV.
NZR, Rugby Australia and Sanzar made the decision to shift the match to Sydney following the extension of the Melbourne COVID-19 lockdown period by the Victorian state government (Wednesday 2 June).
It is the second time the match has had to be shifted after being moved out one day from Saturday to Sunday to give the Rebels the best chance to travel to Hamilton. Although the announcement did not effect the current travel pause between New Zealand and Victoria, it was agreed there was too much uncertainty to continue planning to host the match in Hamilton.
NZR General Manager of Professional Rugby and High-Performance Chris Lendrum said:
“It’s disappointing that we couldn’t get the match across the line in Hamilton, but ultimately we are guided by the advice of Government and health authorities. We feel for the Chiefs and their fans and sponsors, but given the circumstances we’re grateful we can still play the match as we reach the final weeks of Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman”
Chiefs Rugby Club CEO Michael Collins said:
“Our Club, players and coaches are understandably disappointed we are unable to host the Melbourne Rebels in front of our loyal members, fans and stakeholders in Hamilton.
“We were hopeful through extending the kick-off out 24 hours it would allow us to have the best opportunity to play at home if the travel pause lifted. However, we have learned the unpredictable nature of the Covid-19 pandemic brings uncertainty, and we need to be adaptable.
“We feel for our fans and everyone who has been involved in preparing for the match this Sunday and we are absolutely devastated we are unable to deliver the match as scheduled. Fortunately, we are able to still play the Rebels in Sydney and know our Gallagher Chiefs team will be wanting to deliver a performance our Chiefs whānau will be proud of.”
The Gallagher Chiefs squad are already in Sydney following their match against the Queensland Reds in Townsville in Round 4. The playing group stayed in Australia in anticipation of the extension of the quarantine and travel protocols.