Rugby Australia assumes control of financially stricken Melbourne Rebels
Rugby Australia (RA) has assumed control of Melbourne Rebels following the embattled franchise’s voluntary administration just weeks before the commencement of the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.
Struggling with longstanding financial issues, the Rebels face debts exceeding A$10 million ($6.61 million), as reported by the Australian Financial Review.
RA has affirmed its commitment to ensuring the Rebels line up in the 2024 Super Rugby competitions and is collaborating with the appointed administrator to facilitate their participation in the upcoming season.
“RA is committed to ensuring the Melbourne Rebels play in the 2024 Super Rugby competitions, and we will support their preparation for the new season,” said Phil Waugh, Chief Executive of RA.
“As custodians of the game, we are determined to ensure that RA is making responsible decisions for a sustainable and successful future – we will work with the Rebels and the relevant stakeholders to that end.”
The Rebels are scheduled to kick off their season with a home match against the ACT Brumbies on February 23.
Melbourne Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson expressed the club’s determination to honour its commitments for the 2024 season.
Since joining Super Rugby in 2011, the Rebels have encountered challenges in maintaining a strong presence in Melbourne, a city predominantly focused on Australian Rules football.
Despite a better performance in the COVID-19-affected 2020 season, where they finished third in the Super Rugby AU competition, the team has struggled to secure playoff berths, culminating in an 11th-place finish in the 12-team Super Rugby Pacific in 2023.
This isn’t the first time RA has intervened to manage the Rebels, having previously provided support for a two-year period from 2013-15 before the club returned to private ownership.
The Victorian Government has extended support to the Rebels in recent years by committing funding to RA in exchange for hosting Wallabies Test matches.
RA has indicated its intention to continue discussions with the Government regarding the Rebels’ future.
“We need to come together across systems and member unions to get the right structure that’s going to drive success in gold jerseys.” @RugbyAU CEO Phil Waugh hints on the future of the Melbourne Rebels and @SuperRugby beyond 2024!🧐
— Sportsday NSW (@SportsdayNSW) January 30, 2024