The Highlanders and Rebels will now square off at Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval on Sunday after the Melbourne club was barred from entering New Zealand.
The round three Super Rugby trans-Tasman clash had been scheduled for Queenstown but the New Zealand government has paused its travel bubble with Victoria following the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison had also been due to attend the clash in Queenstown which will now kick off at 3pm AEST in Sydney.
“Our players and coaches were really looking forward to heading to Queenstown for what would have been a fantastic day and we share the disappointment of our fans that we won’t be able to make it this season,” Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said.
“We certainly feel for everyone involved in the game, we received such great support… as an organisation we are extremely disappointed that we could not deliver the match as scheduled.
“Fortunately, the Rebels were able to move out of Melbourne and relocate to Sydney on Wednesday and we’re pleased to be able to play the match and chase the competition points.”
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All Rebels players and staff will be tested for COVID-19 before Sunday’s match.
The Highlanders will fly to Sydney via Auckland on Saturday.
“We are pleased to be able to keep the competition going, but are working closely with SANZAAR, Rugby Australia and the Rebels to ensure all measures are in place to keep the Highlanders players, coaches, and management safe,” New Zealand Rugby’s general manager of professional rugby and high performance Chris Lendrum said.