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With a Rebel yell, a new rivalry born

Stuart Fazakerley Roar Rookie

By Stuart Fazakerley, Stuart Fazakerley is a Roar Rookie

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    Sweet revenge. Granted, maybe not for the players or coaches, or even the fans who didn’t follow the 2004 decision; but those who saw our Super 14 team go west all those years ago could be forgiven for raising a wry smile in the wake of the Melbourne Rebels’ 26-25 win against the Western Force.

    If sterling performances against the Brumbies, Sharks, and Hurricanes weren’t enough, this was it.

    By defeating those who ably defeated us seven years ago, our long-awaited presence in the big time had been vindicated.

    Watching the game, however, I couldn’t help but think that it could be the start of something really special for Super Rugby in this country.

    If you look at the Australian conference now, to an extent, every team has a rival:

    The Force have the Reds; the Reds have the Waratahs; the Brumbies have the Waratahs; the Rebels have the Waratahs; and the Waratahs have their fans.

    The extent to which these rivalries are real or manufactured, however, differs markedly. For example, there will always be a rivalry between Victoria and NSW, which naturally flows down to the Rebels and Waratahs. There isn’t, I’d argue, an actual rivalry between the two teams yet, on top of this, due solely to the fact that their history consists of one game.

    The same argument goes for the Force and the Reds. How long can a rivalry that’s based off the initial recruitment tactics of one team, adversely affecting the other, last?

    In the Western Force and the Melbourne Rebels, Australian rugby has something quite unique. The teams already have a rich history with each other, a rarity for expansion franchises. They fought each other for the licence in 2004, and again in the Australian Rugby Championship in 2007, where the Perth Spirit put the sword to the Rebels in their match, only for the Melbourne side to make the final.

    With the newcomers taking the points off the Force at home in their first game against each other, the Westerners will be chomping at the bit to return the favour at AAMI Park later this year.

    Why I think this could be Australian rugby’s most important rivalry, though, is not the sides’ differences, but what they have in common. I would argue that there are no two teams in Super Rugby with more to prove than the Rebels and the Force.

    Both from ‘non-traditional rugby states’, they were immediately written off as also-rans at the start of the year as people scrambled to analyse the title chances of the Reds, Waratahs and Brumbies. Chances are, this will happen again next year, and the year after that.

    Playing each other gives both teams the perfect stage to make a statement to the rest of the competition. Look at what happened this week: The Rebels beat the Force and suddenly the team are talking down their finals chances. Should the Force beat the Rebels in their season-ending away match, I’m sure the press would be abuzz with mentions of ‘redemption’ and ‘momentum’.

    Both teams have the same point to prove: that they deserve to be there. The only thing stopping them is the other team. Couple this with the rather innovative (dare I say ‘non-traditional’) style of play both teams have shown in their history, and buckle up.

    This is going to be something special.

    This video could win $10,000!

    It's one of the favourites to take out the Club Roar most popular video award on Monday!

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • April 5th 2011 @ 9:22am
      Football United said | April 5th 2011 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      just a shame that a rivalry game is bloody far away for any away support.

      • Roar Pro

        April 5th 2011 @ 12:24pm
        Gav said | April 5th 2011 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        Valid point. NZ is closer then Perth, not as friendly though (calling it as it is).

    • April 5th 2011 @ 12:41pm
      Invictus said | April 5th 2011 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

      The Rebels have benefited greatly from all the lessons learned from the formation of the Force. Having said that, a school boy error (the Kingi try) cost the force the match.

    • Roar Pro

      April 5th 2011 @ 1:37pm
      itsuckstobeyou said | April 5th 2011 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

      It’s also a play-off to be everyone’s second favourite team. Though I’m not sure whether the winner takes the title or the loser…

      At least in this particular instance, I felt horrible for the Force. So many home games have gone the same way as this one and it’s heart wrenching to watch Sharpe so dispondant at the end of each game.

      I’ve enjoyed having three teams that I don’t hate playing this year. Truthfully, you could probably throw the Crusaders in as a fourth. It’s hard to hate them when they are so entertaining.

      • April 5th 2011 @ 3:04pm
        AC said | April 5th 2011 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

        Game on Rebels.

        I’ve gotta say, as a Force supporter I was really REALLY p!ssed that we didn’t smash you guys. I was really looking forward to sticking the boot in for your arrogance in thinking you’d had the franchise race all wrapped up before it even started in 2004.

        I’ll be there in Melbourne with about 20 members of the Sea of Blue. Bring your best slaggings Rebel Army! 😉

    • April 5th 2011 @ 3:31pm
      Brett McKay said | April 5th 2011 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

      nice one Stu, we’ve sipped from the same fountain this week, evidently…

      One thing the Rebels have got sewn up already is the supporters stakes, the Rebel Army is unchallenged as a supporter organistaion in Australian rugby, so well played to all of you.

      • April 5th 2011 @ 4:04pm
        Ryan said | April 5th 2011 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

        Brett,
        Totally agree about the Rebels supporters. I moved to Melbourne last year and what a bonus it was to get a Super Rugby team at the time i made the move. I have a season pass and we sit behind the sticks near the Rebel Army, they are awesome.

        I was in Sydney last Friday for work and as i have been a Tahs supporter all my life I went to the Chiefs game. Only now that i have been to a few Rebels games do i clearly see how pathetic the Tahs fans are. I have no idea what the answer is to building atmosphere at Tahs games but it seems to be getting worse each season. I will always support the Tahs as my number one team but i would defintely prefer to go a Rebels match in Melbourne than Tahs match in Sydney for the time being.

        I do hope the Tahs admin learn from the good work in Melbourne and Perth in creating atmosphere.

        • April 5th 2011 @ 8:45pm
          P.Tah said | April 5th 2011 @ 8:45pm | ! Report

          Ryan, to create atmosphere, one person just has to start chanting and cheering and those around him/her have to join in. It’s pretty simple really! 😉 ‘Don’t kick the ball, don’t kick the ball’ was a perfect example. All we have to do is work out what to chant, ‘Waratah, Waratah…’ may be a good place to start.

    • April 5th 2011 @ 3:45pm
      King of the Gorgonites said | April 5th 2011 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

      On the supporters, what are the members crurrently at, and how are things behind the posts with the Rebel army? converting some souls?

      • April 5th 2011 @ 4:09pm
        Ryan said | April 5th 2011 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

        I heard membership was around 8,000 at the start of the season.
        Rebel Army are brilliant and the whole stadium gets behind them when they start up a chant to lift the players. It very much reminds me of when i was school and sitting on the hill watching the firsts play and the senior boys leading the war cries.

    • April 5th 2011 @ 4:51pm
      Gary said | April 5th 2011 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

      Hopefully the Reblels took the gay boys home with them.

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