ACT Brumbies coaches are set to be shunted to Canberra Stadium corporate suites to adhere to social distancing rules when they play their first game in almost four months.
Brumbies and Canberra Raiders staff will meet ACT Health officials on Friday afternoon where it is hoped all will agree to crowd numbers and stadium configuration for the relaunch of live professional sport in the capital.
Where the coaches sit and where the media will be placed are among the details to be finalised, while crowd numbers will depend on social distancing, family allocations and how much of the venue will be a "dirty zone".
Venues with a 40,000 or fewer capacity can fill up 25 per cent of their seats. But the need to have a clean zone for players, which will likely be the entire western side of Canberra Stadium, will reduce Brumbies and Raiders capacities to a maximum of between 3000 and 4000.
Queensland venues will allow up to 2000 spectators at games across different codes this weekend, with the numbers to be made up of members and corporate hospitality.
It's likely the Brumbies and Raiders will limit their attendance to members and corporates as well to reward fans and sponsors who have stuck by the clubs.
How many can attend will be determined by Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman, who is considering several options ranging from players and officials only, fewer than 1000 spectators or up to 4000 in the stands.
Fans may have to be spaced out with three or four seats between each attendee, although there could be an exception for families or children to allow them to sit together. Whether they can purchase food or beverages at the ground is yet to be determined.
Coaches have been based high in the Meninga Stand for several years, but the size of their boxes would only allow for one person given the four-square metres rule in place. So Brumbies mentor Dan McKellar and his staff will likely move into the plush surrounds of a suite usually reserved for high-paying fans or sponsors, putting them closer to the action and giving them ample space to meet physical distancing requirements.
The players started full-contact training three weeks ago and were given their target date when Rugby Australia set their first match for a showdown with the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra on July 4.
Inside centre Irae Simone said the Brumbies were keen to have fans in the stand for their comeback match as they aim to rediscover the form that ignited their season in February and March.
"It will be good [to have a crowd], better than the NRL with the fake noise going around [on the broadcast]," Simone said with a grin.
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"The boys are pretty keen to get some proper, real voices in the crowd. It's exciting times for everyone ... sport is probably something that's missing at the moment. Something to go to, something to do on the weekend. So we're excited to have some real voices around."
The Brumbies will play their first game against the Melbourne Rebels on July 4, while the Raiders are aiming to return to Canberra to play the Dragons on July 3.
The Raiders have been playing "home" games at Campbelltown. The ACT government has approved their request to return to the capital, but the NRL will have the final say in whether they can shift bases.
July 3: Canberra Raiders v St George-Illawarra, 6pm
July 4: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels, 7.15pm
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