COVID cluster puts Super Rugby game in doubt

A new coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne has placed serious question marks over Sunday’s Super Rugby trans-Tasman clash between the Melbourne Rebels and the Highlanders.

The Rebels were due to land in Queenstown on Friday morning ahead of Sunday’s match but that won’t happen following New Zealand’s Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins placing a pause on quarantine-free travel with Victoria for 72 hours from 7.59pm NZT Tuesday.

As with previous pauses, it will be under constant review, Hipkins said in a statement.

The only place rugby fans can watch every match is Stan Sport. Start your free sport trial now!

Four community cases were reported by Australian authorities on Monday night but the cluster had grown to nine active cases by Tuesday evening.

The Rebels were in New Zealand at the weekend for their 35-13 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington but returned home on the Saturday after playing on the Friday night.

Any extension of the quarantine-free travel bubble with Victoria from the New Zealand government would place the match in serious danger.

READ MORE: Queensland left red faced by Kiwi champs

READ MORE: Brumbies blown off the park by classy Chiefs

READ MORE: Woeful Tahs slump to record 10th straight loss

The current best case scenario for the Rebels would be to arrive in Queenstown late Friday night or on Saturday – the day before the game.

But should the Covid-19 cluster flare up on Sunday, the Rebels could run the risk of being stuck in New Zealand.

NZME has reported the Rebels are holding meetings on Tuesday evening to discuss their next steps as they wait for advice from the Australian government.

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

“Going ahead at this stage,” the Melbourne Rebels posted to their social media when asked if the game against the Highlanders in Queenstown was going ahead on Sunday.

The Highlanders have been approached for comment.

– This article originally appeared on and is reproduced with permission

pin up