Rugby-Chiefs clash against Rebels shifted to Sydney due to COVID outbreak

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Waikato Chiefs' Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match against the Melbourne Rebels has been shifted to Sydney from Hamilton after a COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne was extended by a week.

The Chiefs, who lost to the Queensland Reds in Townsville over the weekend, had already set up in Sydney in anticipation of the decision, tournament organisers said.

The rescheduled match will be at Sydney's Leichhardt Oval from 3 pm (0500 GMT) on Sunday.

The change comes after the Rebels' clash against the Otago Highlanders was shifted from Queenstown to Leichhardt Oval last week due to the outbreak.

The Rebels lost the match 42-27.

The Rebels have been forced to play interstate since authorities in southern Victoria state ordered a strict lockdown to contain the Melbourne outbreak.

New Zealand also suspended quarantine-free travel with Victoria.

Victoria authorities on Wednesday extended the seven-day lockdown by another week, warning the outbreak could "explode" and deaths would follow.

The Chiefs' need to beat the Rebels to keep their slim hopes of reaching the Trans-Tasman final alive. The winless Rebels are already out of the running.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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