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Melbourne Rebels' demise appears to create a hole in the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour schedule - but here's a solution

Heffler new author
Roar Rookie
6th June, 2024
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Heffler new author
Roar Rookie
6th June, 2024
1447 Reads

The recent axing of the Melbourne Rebels has left question marks in the schedule for the upcoming British and Irish Lions Tour next year.

Is there still a fixture for July 22nd, 2025 and Will it still be played at Marvel Stadium?

Most importantly, who will be playing?

During a press conference in March, RA CEO Phil Waugh responded to a question about the implications to the Lions’ tour when there was still doubt over Melbourne’s termination.

“While we are working through the Rebels situation, there will still be a fixture in Melbourne on that date,” Waugh told AAP.

Assuming the venue for this fixture is indeed secure, Rugby Australia must now carefully consider its options for a team to face the Lions at Marvel Stadium.

It is paramount that whichever option they decide upon does more than simply fill a hole in the fixture. The team should have significance and, in some way, showcase a facet of Australian rugby culture.


An option that perhaps has not been considered to date, could be to select an Australian Country XV.

The numbers show that Australian rugby is failing to engage and inspire enough junior players, especially those who are growing up in regional towns that love the game.

Alex Corbisiero, Owen Farrell and Geoff Parling hold the Tom Richards Cup. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Right now, the harsh reality is that, if you are a young player with potential, and you are not living in a capital city, and not attending an elite private school in that city, it is highly unlikely that you will be selected for higher honours in Junior rugby.

There are many things that Rugy Australia should be doing to address this reality.

In the meantime, they have a golden opportunity to select a team that, at the very least, honours the communities that keep rugby alive outside of our capital cities.

In theory, this could be a rather formidable team and the optimist in me reckons they could achieve a historic win over the Lions.


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Below is my hypothetical Australian Country XV.

1 Harry Hoopert – Dalby, QLD
2 Lachlan Lonergan – Williamsdale, NSW
3 Harry Johnson-Holmes – Cowra, NSW
4 Izack Rodda – Lismore, NSW
5 Darcy Swain – Cairns, QLD
6 Ned Hanigan (c) – Coonamble, NSW
7 Charlie Cale – Dubbo, NSW
8 Jed Holloway – Yamba, NSW
9 Ryan Lonergan – Williamsdale, NSW
10 Harry McLaughlin Phillips – Toowoomba, QLD
11 Corey Toole – Wagga Wagga, NSW
12 Hamish Stewart – Toowoomba, QLD
13 Triston Reilly – Kempsey NSW
14 Dylan Pietsch – Leeton, NSW
15 Jock Campbell – Inverell, NSW