Australia's domestic Super Rugby competition will start on July 3, it was announced on Tuesday, after an agreement was reached with the sport’s main broadcaster.
“The five-team competition, which features the four Australian Super Rugby teams plus the Western Force, will kick off on July 3 and will be contested over 12 consecutive weekends,” Rugby Australia said in a statement.
The season will kick off with all five teams on zero points when the Queensland Reds host fierce rivals the New South Wales Waratahs in Brisbane. The ACT Brumbies will play the Melbourne Rebels the following night, July 4, in Canberra.
The Perth-based Western Force will have to wait a week before being welcomed back from their two-year Super Rugby exile as they have an opening-round bye.
The original 15-team season across five countries was brought to a halt after seven rounds because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But with Australia seeing only a handful of cases in the last week, restrictions are being relaxed and sports are resuming.
The National Rugby League started at the end of last month and Australian Rules football will get back into action on Thursday.
Super Rugby will begin in New Zealand at the weekend with a domestic “Aotearoa” competition with full crowds after local Covid-19 cases were eradicated.
Rugby Australia had been in tense talks with Fox Sports about broadcasting the rest of this season and beyond.
Rugby Australia CEO Rob Clarke promised fans innovation and “a new brand of rugby”.
Fox has held broadcast rights for 25 years, but it is not clear that deal will continue beyond this year.