The Round 3 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman game between the Highlanders and Melbourne Rebels has been moved from Queenstown to Sydney after the New Zealand Government paused quarantine-free travel with Victoria.
The match will now be played at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday with the Rebels having already exited Melbourne, which on Thursday night will enter a seven-day lockdown in order to combat a COVID-19 outbreak in the city.
The Rebels had been hoping to gain an exemption from the New Zealand Government to travel across the Tasman to play the game, but it was never granted and alternative arrangements had to be made to avoid the game being called off altogether.
Both teams had been preparing for such a scenario after the outbreak was revealed earlier this week, but it is still a disappointing result for Highlanders fans given the game had been declared a sellout in Queenstown.
It also means the Highlanders lose home ground advantage, which could have been crucial in them not only getting the victory but also securing the bonus point they will likely need to reach the Trans-Tasman final.
It is also a tough pill to swallow for the Rebels who could now be forced to spend the rest of the Trans-Tasman tournament away from their Melbourne base, after they were forced onto the road for the entirety of the 2020 Super Rugby AU season and then again at the start of this year's tournament.