New-look Rebels can fill AAMI Park, says new coach Wessels

By Vince Rugari, Vince Rugari is a Roar Guru

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87 Have your say

    The Melbourne Rebels can realise their massive Super Rugby potential and fill the empty stands at AAMI Park if they’re prepared to work hard enough, coach David Wessels says.

    Since their inception in 2011, the Rebels have struggled to find a foothold in what Wessels rates is probably the sporting capital of the world.

    Many felt during last year’s Super Rugby debate that they should have been the Australian team axed – rather than the Western Force – for that precise reason.

    The Rebels have never qualified for the finals and averaged crowds of around 8,000 when they finished rock bottom of the overall ladder with just one win last season.

    “That was one of the things that attracted me to the club. There’s just a huge amount of potential there,” Wessels told AAP.

    “They love sport (in Melbourne) and I think they particularly love winning.

    “Part of our responsibility as a team is to turn around some of those results and give them something to be excited about.

    “It’s really just going to come down to how hard we’re prepared to work over the next couple of months.

    “We don’t move from last to first, which is the ultimate goal, without a bit of blood, sweat and tears.”

    The perfect blueprint for how to succeed in AFL-mad Melbourne is right under their noses, too.

    The Rebels share a training field with the NRL’s Melbourne Storm, who have carved out their own niche by forging a winning culture under Craig Bellamy that has helped them build a modest but loyal fanbase.

    “The intensity with which they train and prepare with is world class,” Wessels said.

    “They’re not winning by accident.

    “It’s a great model for our boys, to be able to see that day in, day out, for something we’re trying to emulate.”

    Wessels said he was enjoying the challenge of managing a star-studded squad and melding together the existing Rebels with those, like him, who joined from the axed Western Force.

    “It feels like a start-up. In many ways it is,” he said.

    “We’ve been through a few iterations and made some mistakes but I think now we’ve got the right people on board to start to mature ourselves.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (87)

    • February 12th 2018 @ 9:47am
      Jim Lamb said | February 12th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      The Storm have done a wonderful job in building up their fan base in Melbourne, considering there a few Rugby League clubs in Melbourne. The have achieved this partly because the competition is a national one and the teams they play against are easily related to by Victorians. The “enemy” are inter-state teams that fans can easily recognise. For the average Melbournian teams with names like Sharks, Cheetahs, Hurricanes could be from anywhere.

      The other thing is that Victorians love a winner, and the Storm have been won and won. If the Rebels can achieve success on the field, the spectators will come.

      Also, if Melbourne had been granted the franchise earlier rather than the Force, they would have built up the crowd numbers.

      • February 12th 2018 @ 11:03am
        Bakkies said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        ‘Also, if Melbourne had been granted the franchise earlier rather than the Force, they would have built up the crowd numbers.’

        The VRU and the Bracks Vic Gov’t at the time (it definitely wouldn’t have been poorly planned under a Kennett Gov’t) have themselves to blame for that. The bid was poor and had no community and media engagement. Whereas the WA bid did. They showed no indication of how they would build up their membership base.

        There were also no facilities ready for a Victorian team to play for in 2006. Just plans that would have taken a few years to complete. The team probably would have been stuck at Olympic Park which would have been a money pit for the Storm with its lack of facilities particularly for corporate sponsors. I don’t think the VRU has an asset for its state teams and club finals to be played at. Unlike the other state unions. The club finals are still played at Box Hole sorry Hill.

        • Roar Guru

          February 12th 2018 @ 1:57pm
          Train Without A Station said | February 12th 2018 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

          What asset does the WARU, or even for that matter the NSWRU have for the same purpose?

          • February 12th 2018 @ 5:06pm
            Bakkies said | February 12th 2018 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

            At the time they put the bid in Rugby WA had Rugby Park at Perry Lakes.

            The Waratahs had Concord Oval their own fault they stuffed that up.

            • Roar Guru

              February 13th 2018 @ 9:37am
              Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

              Why were these necessary for a bid but not continued existence?

              • February 13th 2018 @ 11:46am
                Bakkies said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:46am | ! Report

                Well if you want to run a sustainable operation from the beginning absolutely. The Force had a place to train and a stadium that allowed plenty of opportunities for corporate sponsors and members.

                Face it the Victorian bid was so inferior it was not funny.

              • Roar Guru

                February 13th 2018 @ 1:00pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

                The original Rebels didn’t have a place to train? An NRL facility wasn’t up to the required standard?

                Did you peruse the bid quite closely?

              • February 13th 2018 @ 3:00pm
                Bakkies said | February 13th 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

                A facility at Princes Park the Rabble would have paid through the nose to use and was under a redevelopment proposal in 2006.

                The Storm used Gosch’s Park which had a lot of dressing room facilities and secure spaces to lock up their equipment…..

                ‘Did you peruse the bid quite closely?’

                As much that was tangible to the community.

              • February 13th 2018 @ 5:17pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

                So what did Princes Park rent come to compared to NIB Stadium?

      • February 12th 2018 @ 11:17pm
        andrewM said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:17pm | ! Report

        🙂 🙂 🙂 Seriously Jim? In a city twice as big you’ve struggled to attract crowds even as big as the Force’s smallest crowds?

        Team/Total attendance/average attendance

        2006
        Western Force 170,310 28,385

        2009
        Western Force 107,147 17,858

        2011
        Melbourne Rebels 137,124 17,141
        Western Force 129,606 16,201

        2014
        Western Force 102,052 12,757
        Melbourne Rebels 90,674 11,334

        2017
        Force 9,520
        Rebels 8,446
        *not sure how reliable these figures are, but are consistent with reported attendences.

        And when Melbourne’s team was allegedly under threat, did the fine citizens of Melbourne rally to the cause? No. So much for being the World’s greatest sporting city

        https://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/rugby-union/super-rugby-australian-freefall-mirrored-at-the-gate/news-story/b7cbff39df9f0d4f8d909755a7d08a02
        “Despite that, the Force’s crowds have actually been counterintuitively on the rise this year, with gates rising from 8601 last year to 9188. With 64,318 spectators already having been to nib Stadium this year and an expected crowd pushing 20,000 likely to be in attendance on Saturday night, the Perth club will finish the season behind only the traditional giants, Queensland (105,806) and the Waratahs (101,499) in terms of aggregate figures. That said, both the Force and the Rebels have enjoyed eight home games this season, compared to the seven hosted by the Brumbies, Reds and Tahs.

        The Rebels crowds have suffered badly from all the uncertainty, falling from 81,855 two years ago to just 58,321 this year — again with the Jaguares home match still to come.”

        • February 12th 2018 @ 11:43pm
          Wise Old Elf said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:43pm | ! Report

          Am sick to death of the moaning and groaning by Perth.

          They were thrown out for more than one reason. They are four hours by jet to anywhere for starters. The costs are too much to sustain.

          End of the day, simply not economically viable, whoever let Perth in from the get-go should be hung, drawn and quartered.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 10:52am
            andrewM said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

            Here we go..so a team that lost over $20 million is more economically viable Woe?

            • Roar Guru

              February 13th 2018 @ 11:00am
              Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

              If it contributes to a greater share of TV Revenue and Wallaby Revenue it’s entirely possible.

              • February 13th 2018 @ 11:49am
                Bakkies said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:49am | ! Report

                Well by under paying for non gazetted tests that are used for future forecasts in the next couple of years?

                Great way to run a business. Way to go chaps.

              • Roar Guru

                February 13th 2018 @ 1:00pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

                Who has under paid for anything?

              • February 15th 2018 @ 12:51pm
                Bakkies said | February 15th 2018 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

                The cartel ruining Australian Rugby signed the ‘deal’ off.

              • Roar Guru

                February 16th 2018 @ 2:06pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 16th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                And?

                The existence of an agreement isn’t in dispute.

                You haven’t established that it wasn’t a commercially lucrative deal.

          • Roar Rookie

            February 13th 2018 @ 11:41am
            piru said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

            Am sick to death of the moaning and groaning by Perth.

            We don’t care

            stop reading if you can’t handle it

          • February 13th 2018 @ 11:47am
            Bakkies said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

            ‘They were thrown out for more than one reason. They are four hours by jet to anywhere for starters. The costs are too much to sustain.’

            Well stop believing the nonsense that comes out of Bill Pulver and de Clyne’s mouths.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 2:49pm
            In Brief said | February 13th 2018 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

            I’m sydney and I’m moaning too..

        • February 13th 2018 @ 12:10am
          Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 12:10am | ! Report

          The Force also had a rare rise in performance.

          Either way the point is that the Storm with less of a RL following have managed to consistently post decent crowds.

          So it’s likely that if managed well, the Rebels can post 15k+ crowds.

          I don’t know where you get the conclusion that the Rebels have struggled to post crowds as big as the Force’s smallest crowds – given your own numbers shows them within about 1000 for every year of existence…

          Also Rebels attendance rose from 2015 to 2016. Likely as a result of similar improvements in form.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 10:51am
            PiratesRugby said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

            When the Force came into existence, Australian rugby was still a viable challenger to NZ. Now the Wallabies lose to Scotland and England repeatedly. Melbourne sports fans used to fill the MCG to watch the Wallabies but not anymore. The selection bias against Melbourne players have caused massive resentment. The terrible results of the Wallabies give fans no reason for enthusiasm. The cost of tickets to Super Rugby or test rugby are just exorbitant given the poor product being offered. By contrast, the AFL and NRL put on a much better product for less. Melbournians are punters but not mugs.
            But having said all that, we’ve stumped up for our eighth consecutive membership. Our family loves going to the rugby in Melbourne. We’ve gone interstate and overseas to support the Rebels. We used to do the same for the Wallabies until Cheika FUBARed them.

            • February 13th 2018 @ 11:53am
              Bakkies said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

              ‘The selection bias against Melbourne players have caused massive resentment.’

              Well you could argue that the Rabble were over represented in the Wallabies last year after winning one game which the Brumbies threw away in the last 10 minutes.

              • Roar Guru

                February 13th 2018 @ 1:01pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

                And you could also argue that many of their selected players didn’t contribute much to the Super Rugby season due to injury.

              • February 13th 2018 @ 3:49pm
                KFar said | February 13th 2018 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

                So what’s the excuse for the rest of their below par seasons.

              • February 13th 2018 @ 5:14pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

                They won 7 games in 2016 and 2015.

                That’s better than any australian team did in 2017…

          • February 13th 2018 @ 11:22am
            andrewM said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

            You have no facts to base your argument to suggest that had the Force debuted in 2011 that their crowds would be as dismal – please expand?

            38,000 people showed that they wanted to see a Super rugby team play in Perth TWAS – that is fact.
            Regardless of how many of those would convert this into long term interest it shows that there is a significantly higher level of interest than has ever been shown by the Rebels in their existence – despite all of their marquee players and other concessions that were only given to the Force as an afterthought.

            The fact that the competition as a whole had fundamental problems which reduced its attractiveness doesn’t hide the lack of interest consistently shown in Melbourne.

            Convenient that you omit 2016 when the Force and Rebels performance were reversed – Force on the bottom and Rebels, whilst not topping the ladder, having seven wins – their equal best ever result and yet crowds were hardly inspiring there either.

            • Roar Guru

              February 13th 2018 @ 11:51am
              Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

              When did 38,000 people show that?

              I base my arguments on the fact that crowds have generally mirrored across all times with exceptions for spikes and troughs for extraordinary periods.

              Higher Force crowds early aligned with higher ACT, NSW and QLD crowds at the time.

              Rebels debut crowds amazingly aligned with ACT, WA and NSW crowds at the time with QLD experiencing a spike due to extraordinary performance.

              Why would the interest in the Force had been high in 2011? All the comparables were lower at the time.

              Where did I say Rebels crowds were inspiring in 2016? You were saying about the small Force rise in 2017 being a positive. I pointed out the Rebels had the same in 2016 and that it seemed to follow better results. Neither is really better than the other.

              Your whole argument is based on putting words in my mouth, then attacking the words you’ve put there.

              • February 13th 2018 @ 1:35pm
                andrewM said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                Force vs Brumbies 2006

                Forgot they also had 20,000 members to boot
                http://www.superxv.com/force-super-rugby/force-super-rugby-history/

              • Roar Guru

                February 13th 2018 @ 1:40pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

                What relevance is a crowd from 12 years ago?

                Clearly with multiple chances they haven’t been able to come close to replicating it recently.

                That’s about as relevant as me saying that 54k watched the Wallabies vs England in 2003, compared to about 30k in Perth in 2010, so Melbourne is twice as valuable. That far apart the comparison is pointless.

              • February 13th 2018 @ 4:09pm
                andrewM said | February 13th 2018 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

                It shows that there is a potential market TWAS. You make it sound like we are talking about Ancient Rome

              • February 13th 2018 @ 5:16pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

                So because 79,000 attended a Bledisloe Cup Test there is that same potential market for the Rebels then since both are rugby?

                The fact is it’s not a minor change in the Force thay is different. The market is vastly different now and no teams are likely to get 38,000 for anything save a Grand Final.

                3 years after the home RWC that was very different. But it’s the anomaly, not part of a norm or trend.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 11:51am
            Bakkies said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

            ‘Either way the point is that the Storm with less of a RL following have managed to consistently post decent crowds.’

            If it wasn’t for News Limited propping up their huge debts (and no doubt covering those fines) they would have been out the gap years ago. Rugby didn’t have that to bail out the Rabble and it has cost the game tens of millions by coming out of the governing body’s un-budgeted expenses.

          • Roar Rookie

            February 13th 2018 @ 12:46pm
            piru said | February 13th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

            Either way the point is that the Storm with less of a RL following have managed to consistently post decent crowds.

            6 minor premierships and 3 premierships in 19 years will do that. In fact they’ve only finished in the bottom half of the table 3 times in that period.

            And wasn’t one of those when they got in big trouble a few years ago for breaching salary caps or something?

            So necessary is it for a non AFL team to win to be successful in Melbourne

            • Roar Guru

              February 13th 2018 @ 12:52pm
              Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

              To an extent. At the same time the Rebels without success out-attended the Storm in their early years too.

              I think the important point is that the Storm’s best success is in the past – but their crowds continue to improve.

              • Roar Rookie

                February 13th 2018 @ 1:49pm
                piru said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

                Such is the importance of early success cementing a team’s place in a comp.

                The ARU could learn from this and actually support new sides.

              • Roar Guru

                February 13th 2018 @ 2:08pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

                They didn’t really support the Storm though.

                With regards to the new teams. They competed for the bid selling that they could be successful and didn’t need help.

                It’s a bit rich after the fact to essentially say “Hey you should have listened to the part of the bid I wanted, but disregarded this part”.

    • Roar Pro

      February 12th 2018 @ 11:08am
      GusTee said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

      Funny how Melbourne has had to steal both its rugby league team and its rugby union team from Western Australia in order to add to its sporting capital image.

      • February 12th 2018 @ 11:45pm
        Wise Old Elf said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:45pm | ! Report

        Actually BOTH WA teams collapsed. The old Reds RL team was not followed by anyone. The Force only had a sprinkling of expat Boks following them, so no real loss scrapping them.

        • February 13th 2018 @ 11:56am
          Bakkies said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:56am | ! Report

          ‘Actually BOTH WA teams collapsed. The old Reds RL team was not followed by anyone.’

          Cameron the Perth Reds had higher crowd averages than a number of clubs based on the east coast.

          Neither club collapsed that is nonsense.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 13th 2018 @ 12:39pm
          piru said | February 13th 2018 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

          Actually BOTH WA teams collapsed. The old Reds RL team was not followed by anyone. The Force only had a sprinkling of expat Boks following them, so no real loss scrapping them

          Never in the field of Roar conflict has so much been so wrong in so few words.

          The Reds were well supported, right up to their demise. They were killed and transplanted by Super League.

          I never met any Springboks in the Force crowd – the mix of nationalities was about what you see on the streets of Perth, Aussies, Kiwis, Poms, Saffas and Islanders

        • February 13th 2018 @ 2:12pm
          andrewM said | February 13th 2018 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

          WA born and bred – around me I had 1 Sri Lankan, 2 West Aussies, 2 kiwis and 1 Saffa and an ex Queenslander (20 years WA)

      • February 12th 2018 @ 11:47pm
        andrewM said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:47pm | ! Report

        Don’t forget about Adelaide and the Grand Prix..

    • Roar Rookie

      February 12th 2018 @ 12:00pm
      piru said | February 12th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

      They’d better, Dave

      Otherwise what was the point transplanting The Force?

    • Roar Rookie

      February 12th 2018 @ 2:20pm
      JPR said | February 12th 2018 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

      Time will tell if the Rebels can achieve anything especially filling the AAMI park with a season long attendance.

    • February 12th 2018 @ 6:39pm
      Force4Good said | February 12th 2018 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

      We’re a passionate rugby family in Perth so obviously we’ll all be switching this off.

      Care factor ZERO…

      We wish the ex Force players and Wessels all the best but we won’t be watching.

    • February 12th 2018 @ 10:47pm
      Malo said | February 12th 2018 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

      Who watches the rebels, I’d live to know how little the tv figures are.

      • February 12th 2018 @ 11:08pm
        Alicesprings said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:08pm | ! Report

        Would love to see a survey on how many people in Australia know who the Rebels are – let alone people in Melbourne.

      • February 12th 2018 @ 11:53pm
        Bakkies said | February 12th 2018 @ 11:53pm | ! Report

        ‘Who watches the rebels’

        TWAS, Pulver, Gray and de Clyne.

        • Roar Guru

          February 13th 2018 @ 9:38am
          Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 9:38am | ! Report

          More people watch Rebels games than the Force. The Force have the lowest recorded Super Rugby TV viewing numbers of all our teams.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 11:00am
            Fionn said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            Does this include international viewing? I had heard that significantly more South Africans watched the Force than other Aussie teams due to time zones.

            • Roar Guru

              February 13th 2018 @ 11:02am
              Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

              No. Australian viewers. Which is really relevant for what revenue we are bringing to the table.

              8PM in Perth is still 2PM in SA. Hardly prime TV viewing time.

              12PM to 2PM is much less of a deterrent than 8PM to 10PM.

              The other consideration is for all the benefit of a 2PM game in SA, it’s a midnight game in NZ instead of the less than ideal 10PM.

          • February 14th 2018 @ 12:31am
            In brief said | February 14th 2018 @ 12:31am | ! Report

            What’s your source? I live on the east coast and watched all the Force games (played in our timezone). Hard to believe the Rebels had significantly higher viewing figures. Did those viewing figures, if you can provide them, generate enough review to cover the additional 30 million the ARU gifted to them?

            • Roar Guru

              February 14th 2018 @ 8:18am
              Train Without A Station said | February 14th 2018 @ 8:18am | ! Report

              Reported ratings.

              Media Watch.

              The ARU didn’t give the Rebels an additional $30M. If you are going to quote numbers at least get them right.

              And it’s a moot point whether they did, as that money is already spent and determining the best future market is the only possible action.

            • Roar Guru

              February 14th 2018 @ 10:48am
              Train Without A Station said | February 14th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

              Media Week AU provide the information weekly.

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