Super Rugby Pacific: Force's early home matches moved
NEWS: Super Rugby’s Western Force will move from their Perth base to eastern Australia for early season fixtures to minimise coronavirus-related travel disruption, competition organisers said Monday.
The Force were originally scheduled to play three of their first four matches at home in Western Australia but the state government this month scrapped plans to reopen borders with the rest of the country on February 5.
Rugby Australia said the team would instead play its opening match against the Brumbies on February 20 in Canberra and move its Round Four clash with the Waratahs to Sydney on March 13.
“Unfortunately, we are all now well versed in dealing with these kinds of changes as we continue to navigate the uncertainty that surrounds Covid-19,” Rugby Australia chief Andy Marinos said.
“We have managed to find a solution that maintains the integrity of the draw and allows us to proceed with minimal disruptions to the season.”
He said the Force’s Round-Three fixture against Queensland Reds on March 5 may still go ahead in Perth but details had not been finalised.
It is the second major virus-enforced revamp of the Super Rugby draw after organisers decided last month to drop trans-Tasman matches from the first nine rounds to avoid travel between Australia and New Zealand.
The overall format will remain unchanged – 15 regular-season rounds in a round-robin format followed by a three-week finals series.
The competition features five Australian teams, five from New Zealand plus newcomers Moana Pasifika, based in Auckland, and the Fijian Drua, with headquarters in rural New South Wales.
Updated Super Rugby Pacific Fixtures:
Round One – Brumbies v Western Force, GIO Stadium Canberra, 14.00, Sunday, February 20
Round Three – Western Force v Queensland Reds, TBC
Round Four – NSW Waratahs v Western Force, Leichardt Oval, 14.00, Sunday, March 13
Round Six – Western Force v Brumbies, HBF Park Perth, 19.00, Friday, March 25
Round Nine– Western Force v NSW Waratahs, HBF Park Perth, 17.45, Saturday, April 16
*All times are local