SUPER Rugby officials are poised to announce a blockbuster double-header in Wollongong, with four teams set to play at the same ground on an historic night.
Coronavirus fears have forced a major schedule overhaul after the Japanese government cancelled all sporting events for the next two weeks.
It sent Super Rugby bosses scrambling to find alternate venues for the Japan Sunwolves, who will have to relocate at least two home games.
The South Coast Register can reveal the competition has all but settled on playing two games at the beachside Wollongong stadium next Friday night.
The plan is for the ACT Brumbies, featuring Berry's Will Miller, to play the Sunwolves at 2.45pm before the NSW Waratahs host the Waikato Chiefs at 7.15pm.
There has been suggestions the Brumbies and Sunwolves have swapped home games, but the match will be deemed as a Sunwolves home fixture and Brumbies will retain hosting rights to the last-round fixture on May 29.
The deal and details are yet to be finalise, and need final approval before Super Rugby can announce the new schedule.
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The venue could change again if costs are deemed too high. But the fact Fox Sports was going to be set up in Wollongong for the Waratahs' clash had a significant influence on the decision because it minimises broadcast costs to have two games at the same venue.
It could be a perfect platform for Australian rugby if both the Brumbies and Waratahs can win as the code fights to gain new supporters and exposure.
It's understood there were initial talks about trying to host the Sunwolves in Canberra on March 7 or 8, either at Canberra Stadium or another venue around the capital.
Super Rugby also considered hosting the match at a "closed stadium" with no fans in Japan. But the change in the Japanese government's protocols prompted a rethink.
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Regional areas like Wagga, Bega or Albury were ruled out because Fox Sports would need to set up venues for broadcast, incurring extra expenses.
But Wollongong emerged as the front-runner given it will be a neutral venue for the Sunwolves and cameras and broadcast equipment will already be at the stadium.
The Brumbies and Sunwolves will then meet again at the end of the season at Canberra Stadium.
Coronavirus is causing havoc with sporting schedules around the world. The Japanese Top League rugby competition has been put on hold as well as the J-League soccer season.
Olympic Games officials are also monitoring health warnings and all other sports are nervous watching.
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The Sunwolves were supposed play the Brumbies in Osaka on March 8 and the Canterbury Crusaders in Tokyo on March 14.
The Crusaders game could also be shifted to the Illawarra region given the defending champions finalised a rugby program with the University of Wollongong this year.
"To date the virus has been detected in 30 countries and territories around the world.
"The most concerning to SANZAAR of these are the Sunwolves' home venues in Japan and Singapore where matches are scheduled to be played.
"Presently a number of countries including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore have placed travel and country entry restrictions on passengers travelling from or through mainland China [the virus epicentre] within 14 days of entry to reduce the potential spread of infection.
"However, at this time travel restrictions into and out of Japan by the respective SANZAAR governments have not been further escalated from their latest positions earlier in the week.
"However, SANZAAR has now been informed that the Japanese Government has requested the cancellation of sporting events in the country for the next two weeks with specific mention of the Japanese professional sports leagues.
"This includes the Sunwolves versus Brumbies match that is scheduled to be played in Osaka on the 6th March.
"SANZAAR has therefore been in communication with all relevant stakeholders regarding the match and advanced discussions have been held to adequately address this recent announcement by the Japanese government.
"SANZAAR is now working to determine if this match can be relocated. SANZAAR will issue further details on the position of this match and any potential further disruptions in the near future.
"In terms of the Super Rugby tournament as a whole, management is in regular and close contact with the National Union Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) who have been monitoring teams within their own territories against national health guidelines and health authority directives."
The Sunwolves boast three former Brumbies - Jordan Jackson-Hope, James Dargaville and Ben Hyne - and could be based in Australia for the next two weeks after they play the Hurricanes in Napier this weekend.
But details still need to be finalised, and if all parties do not agree on the alternate location, the match will likely be cancelled and result in competition points being split.
"The international cross-border nature of the Super Rugby tournament has led SANZAAR to review its playing schedule and to implement specific tournament protocols to minimise any risks of the ongoing effects of the coronavirus," SANZAAR said in a statement.