Things are going from bad to worse at the Melbourne Rebels who are operating by little by little now. First of all, they’ve entered voluntary administration 1-2 weeks ago while they were owed lots of money in debt. Now not only a few of their staff including the board were forced to leave but also they have just $17,300 left with just a few pieces of office furniture, gym equipment & two cars. Although they will be playing out this season since the fixtures have already been laid out for the over the next few months as there’s no way back, but still no guarantee the Rebels will return in 2025 which will be highly unlikely.
It will be devastating to see Rugby leave Melbourne where they’ve been the host of the three-day annual Super Round weekend for a few years, which isn’t too far away now for Round 2 at the start of March. They also hosted the home Bledisloe Cup games when the Wallabies v All Blacks over the last two years (2022 at Marvel Stadium & 2023 at MCG) & will be hosting Wales during the 2nd mid-year tour match in mid-July at AAMI Park. Yes, they have also produced a few Wallabies players of their own over the last few years & not being able to play for a local professional team like the Rebels like underage level & then into Super Rugby before stepping up at International level would see them end up elsewhere. Regardless of what happens, there will always be some people wanting to play rugby from a young age in Melbourne & across Victoria.
But if you look at the on-field results however, they barely do anything good apart from the rare 9th placed finish back in 2018 when they benefited from Western Force’s axing from Super Rugby at the time. You might also tell that they do have a great line-up of players too from the off-season despite a huge mess off the field lately, but don’t think it will make much of a difference when all of the players’ contracts including the coaching staff under Kevin Foote will last through the end of June.
Look it’s so hard to tell having looked at options to see the Rebels live on such as merging with another team like the ACT Brumbies from Canberra and even Moana Pasifika. But no matter what you think whether or not if the merged squad would be even stronger, it’s unfortunately not a good idea when merging two teams would see plenty of uproar amongst fans in the Rugby community here. That means, you will be taking out the history they’ve built for such a long time like 27 years & it won’t be good to see that kind of value go, who fear the team they support will soon be gone under a different location & new team identity. It means a lot to them & that will be irreplaceable as Rugby Australia never wanted to do it anyway.
Now here’s what will happen if the Rebels meet their comeuppance, as said, it would be so sad to lose an Australian Super Rugby side as RA always wanted to keep all five teams in order to have a national footprint, which is understandable.
But the results and lack of silverware including their worst ever World Cup last year is still weighing against them over the last 20 + years as the question is can they support five teams? The answer is no unfortunately because RA proved that they are unable to make room to support themselves financially for all five Super Rugby teams in order to have the best success as we will be down to four after this with the Queensland Reds, NSW Waratahs, ACT Brumbies & Western Force. Yes, there were rumours about the Brumbies also entering the same way (voluntary administration) as the Rebels, who are also running tight on funds. But considering their strong on-field presence year-long round that includes making the Finals every year where they went all the way as the only Australian team here to the semi-finals meaning it will be too difficult to see them go.
Even so with four teams here that was done on more than a few occasions, they still haven’t translated much success into International level as the Wallabies used to enjoy dominating on the field with just three Super Rugby teams of Reds, Waratahs & Brumbies back then in the 1990s & early 2000s. So is abandoning the national footprint plan for a pro-rugby state strategy that would finally see the Wallabies return to winning ways just like Rugby League does mostly in NSW & QLD? This could finally be the answer with the Western Force from Perth either playing in Japan or relaunching their own comp in Global Rapid Rugby considering Andrew Forrest has lots of cash in the bank. They are a side that has been in and out off the comp for a long time since 2006 whose form weren’t bad during most home games last year but still yet never made the finals.
In the meantime, Rugby Australia has lots of issues to address where the silverware cabinet has been mostly empty other than the rare 2011 Tri Nations & 2015 Rugby Championship as time will tell soon enough with or without the Melbourne Rebels.