Rugby-Rebels' clash with Crusaders switched to Sydney due to COVID-19 outbreak

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Melbourne Rebels' Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match against the Canterbury Crusaders has been switched from Melbourne to Sydney as authorities battle to contain an outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia's southern state of Victoria.

The Rebels will play their third successive match at Sydney's Leichhardt Oval on Saturday against the Crusaders, having been forced to play out of Melbourne due to a lockdown in the Victoria state capital.

"The (lockdown) restrictions may not be lifted until Thursday 10 June at the earliest, and all stakeholders believe it is prudent to schedule the match in Sydney to enable both teams every opportunity to prepare properly for the match," competition organisers SANZAAR said in a statement.

The unbeaten Crusaders need victory against the winless Rebels in the final match of the tournament to give themselves their best chance of making the final.

The Crusaders are third on the table, one point behind the leading Auckland Blues and level on points with the second-placed Otago Highlanders.

Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, reported 11 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, its biggest rise in locally acquired infections in a week.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)