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2011 will mark a significant year in the history of the Victorian sporting landscape. It will field a team in the world’s most prestigious rugby competition, Super Rugby.
A Super Rugby title is the only remaining trophy yet to be won by a Victorian side.
The Geelong Cats, Melbourne Victory, Victorian Bushrangers are just some of the teams (at this point in time), which are the current premiers of their domestic sporting competition.
These are the hopes and aspirations of a sports mad Victorian.
A true Victorian. I was brought up on Australian Football (Richmond), soggy meat pies and afternoons at the MCG. I’m in a generation which has grown up with advancements in technology such as Pay-TV and the Internet.
These have helped us gain exposure to a wide and interesting world, which obviously included sport. I remember a time when the sporting landscape in Australia (in particular Victoria), only included Australian Football and Cricket.
Since 1998, with the introduction of a NRL team (Melbourne Storm) and the reinvention of Association Football through the A-League, many Victorians (Australians too) have a growing sporting interest, outside of traditional sports in their state.
This is where I found rugby.
I can remember watching a few matches in my early teens as well as league during the Super League war. During my mid-teens I fell out of love with sport for various reasons.
However, towards my late teens and early twenties, I found my passion again.
Before recommitting myself to a struggling Richmond, I was supporting the Wallabies in the build up to the 2007 World Cup in France. Subsequently, I discovered Super 14 in 2008.
Due to the lack of a Victorian team, I decided to align myself with our northern neighbour, the NSW Waratahs. I even purchased a relatively cheap non-match day membership.
It was only until late 2008 that I discovered Victoria’s attempt to gain a team in Super Rugby. I learned of the failed 2004 bid, which went to the Western Force. As well as news that SANZAR was looking to add another team to the prestigious competition.
I thought the time was right to build support for a team in one of my favourite sports. I employed tools that were popular and appealed to the masses through Facebook and Twitter.
I only gathered minimal support.
However, it wasn’t long before I found similar people who had already established more successful groups. As they say, two-heads are better than one.
Teaming up, we eventually found ourselves with 2,000 plus supporters. Out of this, we’ve evolved into a group known as the Rebel Army.
For those on the outside looking in, you may ask: “Why don’t I have this similar level of commitment to my AFL club?” The answer is simple, it’s a matter of history.
Richmond is over 100 years old, it’s supporter culture and groups are well established. On the other hand, the Rebels provide a fresh start something to be part of, to form the foundation of. A situation which isn’t dissimilar to that of the 11th A-League franchise Melbourne Heart.
The Rebels will also provide a niche in the Victorian sporting landscape, one which is slowly disappearing, state representation. At present there is only one team, in all of the major domestic sporting competitions which represent Victoria, the Bushrangers.
However, post-2011, this is expected to change with the Big Bash changing to a city/franchise structure. Victorian’s love their sport, and especially love their state representative sides, if the recent Big Bash series is anything to go by.
I could be grasping at straws using cricket (which is a well established sport in this country) as a measure for supporting a domestic rugby team, but I don’t think this is too far off the mark.
I’m sure every Victorian awaits the day, the mighty Victorian Rebels take on the NSW Waratahs at the new Rectangular Stadium.