Melbourne Rebels: Confirmed- Rebels banished from Super Rugby...

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Published Time: 30.05.2024 - 02:01:22 Modified Time: 30.05.2024 - 02:01:22

Shortly after RA's decision had been made public, the Rebels issued a statement saying the club was devastated by the news but that it appreciated the clarity it have provided players, coaches and staff alike. Melbourne Rebels

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"RA advised the known representatives of the Consortium of this outcome this morning, noting that the application did not demonstrate sufficient financial viability."

The clash with the Drua on Saturday now represents potentially the penultimate fixture in the club's history, with the Rebels having already secured a quarterfinal berth.

Ironically, the Rebels strongest season in their 14-year history will also be the one in which after they cease to exist.

Shortly after RA's decision had been made public, the Rebels issued a statement saying the club was devastated by the news but that it appreciated the clarity it have provided players, coaches and staff alike.

"The Melbourne Rebels acknowledge Rugby Australia's (RA) decision not to grant a Participation Agreement to a Consortium application for the Melbourne Rebels to compete in the 2025 Super Rugby Pacific season," the Rebels statement read.

"The decision means that the 2024 season will be the last for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby Pacific for the foreseeable future.

"This is the news that the Rebels club and its supporters have been dreading since the club was placed into Voluntary Administration in January. It is important to note that all player and coach pathways programs remain in place, and there has not yet been a decision made on the future of the Melbourne Rebels Super W team.

"While this is undoubtedly a sad day for the Melbourne Rebels, the clarity that this decision provides for our players and staff is welcome. The club will continue to work with RA and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) regarding next steps for players and staff.

"Everyone at the Rebels remains committed to, and passionate Rugby in Victoria - and we will never stop advocating for and supporting the sport at all levels in this state. We urge all fellow Rugby fans to do the same... we are proud of our players, coaches, and staff in delivering such a successful season in the most challenging of circumstances."

RA reclaimed the club's license after it was placed into voluntary administration, the Rebels revealed to have had debts in excess of $20m, the sums owed to the Australian Taxation Office, AAMI Park and a variety of other creditors.

Further investigations later determined that figure was in fact north of $22m.

Melbourne Rebels skipper Rob Leota [L] and his teammates will have to find new clubs in 2025 Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

The governing body then called in administrators, who uncovered that the Rebels had been operating while insolvent as far back as 2018. A vote was then taken on whether to accept a proposal from a consortium headed by former Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford for ownership of the club, which was green lit despite a tied vote.

But that still involved RA handing over the club's license, which the governing body has decided not to do.

"The application relied upon projections for revenue growth and cost savings that RA believes are overly optimistic, raising significant doubts the long-term sustainability of the proposed licensee,' the statement added." "Further, the Consortium's proposed alliance with Western Melbourne Group (WMG) regarding co-location at Tarneit, which is central to the proposed model, is early stage and is not yet agreed between the parties.

"The Consortium has made it clear that it is seeking a contribution from RA of several million dollars to cover forecast operating losses - this is in addition to the standard funding that would be available under a Participation Agreement.

"The identity of the Consortium members has not been disclosed to RA and, as a result the credentials of the Consortium were unable to be fully assessed."

Those players contracted for 2025 may now be redistributed across Australia's other four franchises, while others will be left to fend for themselves and may have to head overseas.

Wallabies Carter Gordon, Taniela Tupou, Rob Leota, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Jordan Uelese could all find new homes in Australia, while star fullback Andrew Kellaway has already inked a deal with NSW Waratahs. Gordon has also been linked with a move to rugby league.

RA Head of High Performance Peter Horne met with Rebels players to discuss their options last week.

Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh says the governing body remains committed to rugby in Victoria despite the Rebels' exit from Super Rugby Pacific Mark Evans/Getty Images

Tupou took to social media to express his disappointment, posting a broken heart emoji on X [formerly Twitter], following the players' meeting with RA on Thursday.


In summation of its decision, RA said there was too much risk involved in extending the Rebels' future by entering into a new deal with the private consortium.

"Given the lack of detail made available to RA, the lack of transparency and the significant doubts over the Consortium's proposed financial model, RA has determined that there is an unacceptable level of risk associated with entering into a Participation Agreement with this Consortium for the 2025 Super Rugby Pacific season," the statement read.

"Regarding the Melbourne Rebels players, RA and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) have been contingency planning for the possibility of this outcome and met with players last week to discuss options for player movement within Australian rugby.

"This process will continue in the coming weeks, as RA engages with RUPA, players and other Super Rugby clubs regarding options for player movement. RA will communicate further details regarding this process in due course."

While the Rebels' Super Rugby Pacific future has come to an end, RA will make a decision on the club's Super Rugby women's participation later in the year.

The governing body also insists it remains committed to rugby in Victoria, confirming it would: "fund Rugby Victoria to oversee community rugby and grow the game within the state, and will look at opportunities to increase funding; assume strategic and financial responsibility for junior talent development programs working closely with Rugby Victoria under a centralised high-performance structure - including Super Rugby U16s and U19s; will continue to work with the Victorian Government on development of the Victorian Rugby Centre of Excellence at La Trobe University, which promises to become one of the nation's landmark development facilities and the home of Rugby pathways in Victoria."

RA CEO Waugh paid tribute to the club's players and staff who had suffered through five months of uncertainty, and said the game would not be walking away from Victoria despite the Rebels' Super Rugby Pacific exit.

It has been a testament to the players, coaches, team management and support staff that they have managed to deliver such a competitive season on the field in extremely difficult circumstances - and we are looking forward to seeing the team fighting in the Finals for the first time ever.

"I want to thank the rugby community for its patience and ongoing support of the code. Rugby Australia's focus right now is on supporting the impacted staff and players at the Rebels," Waugh said.

"We have a plan that will ensure rugby has a strong future in Victoria - the infrastructure and the systems remain unchanged despite the change to the professional game in 2025, and we will continue to look for opportunities to increase that investment in the game in Victoria.

"As Australian Rugby evolves, we will consider the game's professional footprint, and how it best serves the game and Super Rugby.