The pandemic and Western Australia border restrictions have forced match schedule changes for the start of the tournament.
The Western Force will base themselves on Australia's East Coast for the opening rounds of the inaugural season of Super Rugby Pacific due to ongoing border restrictions in Western Australia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Force, Brumbies and NSW Waratahs have agreed to swap home and away fixtures in the early rounds of the competition to allow the season to proceed with minimal disruptions.
The Force home fixture against the Brumbies originally scheduled for Round 1 will now be played in Canberra, with the Force instead hosting the Brumbies in Round 6. Their home fixture against the Waratahs, originally scheduled for Round 4, will now be played in NSW, with the Force instead hosting the Waratahs in Round 9.
The Force will seek to retain their home match against the Reds in Round 3, with the venue for this match to be confirmed. The Western Force will continue to work with the Western Australian government to host the match in Perth, however, venues on the east coast are also being explored.
Full revised Super Rugby Pacific Draw: Click HERE
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said: “I’d like to thank the Western Force, Brumbies, NSW Waratahs and Reds for their understanding and the spirit of cooperation in which they’ve worked as we’ve progressed through these necessary changes."
“Unfortunately, we are all now well versed in dealing with these kinds of changes as we continue to navigate the uncertainty that surrounds COVID-19. We have managed to find a solution that maintains the integrity of the draw and allows us to proceed with minimal disruptions to the season."
“The Western Force players, staff and their families are making a significant sacrifice and we thank them for that."
“Rugby has faced many challenges over the last couple of years but I am heartened by the spirit and resolve which has been displayed by the entire Rugby community as we’ve worked together to find solutions and positive outcomes for the game during a difficult time," added Marinos.
Western Force CEO Tony Lewis said: "Firstly, I’d like to thank Phil Thompson of the Brumbies, Paul Doorn of the Waratahs, Matthew Barlow from SANZAR and Ben Whittaker from Rugby Australia for their assistance with reaching such a positive result."
“To deliver seven home games for our members and fans is of the utmost importance for us, so we’ll continue to work hard with the Western Australian government. We want to see all WA rugby fans at HBF Park for what promises to be a massive season.”
Updated Super Rugby Pacific Fixtures:
Round 1 - Brumbies v Western Force, GIO Stadium Canberra, 2:00pm, Sunday 20 February
Round 3 – Western Force v Queensland Reds, TBC
Round 4 – NSW Waratahs v Western Force, Leichardt Oval, 2:00pm, Sunday 13 March
Round 6 – Western Force v Brumbies, HBF Park Perth, 7:00pm, Friday 25 March
Round 9 – Western Force v NSW Waratahs, HBF Park Perth, 5:45pm, Saturday 16 April
[*All times are local]