Melbourne Rebels look set for an extended stay away from home after the Queensland Government handed down new restrictions for any of the state's football teams involved in a match with Melbourne-based opposition.
Restrictions imposed Monday by the Queensland Government mean any Queensland team must quarantine for 14 days if they play a Melbourne team in QLD, play a match in Melbourne, or play in another state against a team who has been in Melbourne in the preceding 14 days.
While the AFL has gone into damage control by altering its fixtures in response to the spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria, Rugby Australia will have the chance to see how things transpire over the next few days before making decisions around the Rebels' longer-term future.
The club has confirmed its Round 2 Super Rugby AU match will be played somewhere in NSW as a result of the unfolding spike in Victoria, and the new restrictions implemented in Queensland.
"Not unlike other teams and codes domestically and abroad, the short-term relocation of the Melbourne Rebels away from Australia's sporting capital has been a challenging and evolving situation," a Rebels statement read.
"It is a sacrifice from our club, players and staff which provides for the commencement and continuation of the 2020 Vodafone Super Rugby AU competition and illustrates our commitment to the future prosperity to rugby in Australia.
"The Melbourne Rebels will endeavour to provide further updates when future arrangements are confirmed."
The Rebels departed Melbourne on Friday, moving to Canberra a week earlier than originally planned for their Super Rugby AU opener against the Brumbies, a decision that looks set to have spared Rugby Australia some serious headaches.
Given that the Rebels don't face the Queensland Reds until Friday Jul. 10, the team will have been clear of Victoria for 14 days, meaning they are free to face Brad Thorn's side and in doing so will not create any issues for the competition moving forward.
A Rugby Australia spokesperson had earlier told ESPN that no immediate decisions would be made over the Rebels' home games, nor those hosted by the Western Force who were hoping to return to Perth -- they are currently based in the NSW Hunter Valley -- until more information around the COVID-19 spike in Victoria came to light.
But it's hard to see just how the Rebels can return home given the Queensland Government's updated restrictions, or when exactly they might be able to play a home game at AAMI Park.
The uncertainty comes as rumours of strike action cloud the start of Super Rugby AU. Australia's professional players are reportedly unhappy at further planned pay cuts from October through to the end of the year, after they had agreed to average reductions of 60 percent to help keep the game afloat back in April.