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CONFIRMED: Rebels fall into voluntary administration as Rugby Australia seeks 'sustainable and successful future'

29th January, 2024
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29th January, 2024
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Rugby Australia says they will make “responsible decisions for a sustainable and successful future”, as the governing body stepped in to help operate the Melbourne Rebels alongside administrator PwC.

After weeks of reports surrounding the future of the Rebels, the Super Rugby franchise, who first took to the field in 2011, slipped into voluntary administration on Monday night.

The fall from grace comes amid a financial crisis, where the Rebels have debts of around $10 million.

RA chief executive Phil Waugh said the governing body was “committed to ensuring the Melbourne Rebels play in the 2024 Super Rugby competitions”.

“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,” Waugh said in a statement released on Tuesday morning.

The Melbourne Rebels’ future is unclear after the Super Rugby franchise entered voluntary administration. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The timing of the announcement comes at an awkward time for the game.

The Super Rugby competition is less than four weeks away from getting underway, while Melbourne will host ‘Super Round’ during the second round of the competition from 1-3 March.

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Players were informed last week that their contracts were secure for the 2024 season, as the Rugby Union Players’ Association met with the club last Thursday.

The precarious state of the Rebels’ future could impact on the Victorian government’s hopes of hosting the men’s Rugby World Cup final in 2027.

The state government has been a strong backer of the franchise, bailing out the Rebels previously, while entering a $20m deal with RA to ensure not only the Rebels’ Super Rugby license but also Test matches, including a British and Irish fixture, are played in Melbourne.

Should the Rebels disappear, it’s possible the Victorian Government could turn their back on rugby union, including a reported $50m offer to host the World Cup final.

RA, who hold the Rebels’ Super Rugby license, said they would continue to engage with the Victorian Government about the franchise’s future.

“The Victorian Government has been a long-standing and significant supporter of professional and community Rugby,” Waugh said.

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“Through our strong partnership – forged through decades of staging major events in Melbourne – our focus is to work with the Victorian Government and its key agencies, including Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust, to ensure the Rebels’ participation in the 2024 Super Rugby season and the continuation of professional Rugby in the state.”

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh says they are hoping to ensure a “sustainable and successful future” for rugby in Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

After years of excuses, the Rebels have built one of their strongest rosters this season after recruiting Wallabies forwards Taniela Tupou and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.

But there are fears that the destabilising nature of the Rebels’ future could impact the squad’s performance this season.

Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson insisted the franchise was determined to fight on and deliver on and off the field this year.

“Our focus as an organisation is to ensure we can deliver the 2024 season, perform well in the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific and Super Rugby Women’s competitions, and to position our club in the best possible way for the future,” Stephenson said.

“Thank you to the Rebels’ players and staff, our partners, and especially the members and fans for their support and patience during this time.”

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