Rebels foreign player quota is a blessing

Neville Howard Roar Rookie

By Neville Howard, Neville Howard is a Roar Rookie

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    The final building blocks are falling into place for the Melbourne Rebels, as ‘we’ now have 30 players contracted to the club. We have an amazing world cup winning coach in Rod Maqueen, and a marketing spin-doctor (and one of my Idols) Harold Mitchell steering the ship into 2011 and leaders on the field with names like Mortlock, Huxley, Cordingley and Gerrard.

    The player kits and membership announcements are due soon, and in just over two months, the team will assemble in Melbourne for the first time.

    The ball is definitely on the roll, and gaining momentum.

    On top of this, I’ve heard rumours that a few strings are being pulled in effort to have a Waratah vs. Rebels first round, which will be guaranteed to lift the AAMI Park roof!

    Reflecting back to a mere few months ago, when the likes of Mark Ella and a few other disgruntled NSW rugby personalities cast scrutiny over possible team selections, and how Rebels will be diluting Australian Rugby even more, I’m happy to quietly prove them all wrong.

    The Rebels have a strong team, with senior experienced players and mentors, yet balanced with enough young players who will look to stick with the Rebels in years to come.

    Did they ‘raid’ the other Franchises? No. Did they significantly dilute any other team? No.

    ARU announced restrictions to the signing of current Wallabies and other Australian Super rugby team players. And due to this, the Rebels were allowed to contract up to 10 foreign players.

    Initially this seemed a possible burden to the average onlooker. Questions like ‘how will the public react’, and ‘Will they appeal to the average supporter?’ were asked.

    I am of the opinion that the ten foreign-player-allowance was a blessing in disguise!

    Yes, the initial intent was due to a recruitment embargo, which is designed to prevent any aggressive recruiting destabilising the seasons of the current four teams.

    But the result is a multicultural cosmopolitan fan base in Melbourne instantly taking ownership in the team.

    The Melbourne based Kiwis were quick to come out in support of the Rebels after signings of Somerville, O’Neill, MacDonald, Chamberlain and Vuna, The Saffers took pride in being represented by young guns Du Plessis and Saffy.

    Not to mention the UK ex-pats falling behind the Rebels in support of players like Lipman, Delve, Cipriani.

    To compliment these selections, players like Vuna, Saffy, Du Plessis, will also be available for Wallaby selection! Diluting Australian Rugby? I think not!

    Rebels have not even taken the pitch, yet they’ve already added value to the Super 15, as well as the Australian Rugby Institution by bringing in young guns, as well as towing in overseas based talent such as Rodzilla, Cordingley, Mitchell and Gerrard.

    In a few short months, the Rebels have proven wrong the naysayers, and won over a dedicated foreign fan base to compliment the already established rugby culture in Melbourne.

    I can’t wait for 2011, and the Rebel-Army will bring it to every game.

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