NRL final moved to Brisbane due to Sydney’s COVID-19 rates
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The National Rugby League grand final on Oct. 3 will be moved from Sydney to Brisbane because of spiraling COVID-19 cases in New South Wales state.
It is the second major football championship match to be shifted due to the pandemic. In late August, the Australian Football League final scheduled for Sept. 25 was moved from its traditional home of the Melbourne Cricket Ground to Perth, Western Australia, also due to rising COVID-19 cases in Victoria state.
Officials in New South Wales reported nearly 1,500 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total cases in the most recent outbreak in the state to nearly 32,000.
“This year we will create history, playing the grand final in Brisbane for the very first time,” Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys said Wednesday. “This will be an historic moment for the city and a reward for the support the Queensland community has given us throughout 2021.”
The final will be the first time that Brisbane will host the championship match, 33 years after the Brisbane Broncos entered the competition. The Broncos have won the league title six times, but always had to play the final in Sydney.
The Broncos finished in 14th place of 16 teams his season and did not make the playoffs which begin this weekend in regional centers in Queensland. Many of the league’s late regular-season matches were played in Queensland due to the pandemic.
Brisbane had always been favorite to host the grand final due to low COVID-19 infection rates in the state — there were no new cases reported Wednesday. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said there could be a capacity crowd of 52,000 at the NRL final depending on the COVID-19 situation in early October.
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