Statement On The Future Of The Melbourne Rebels

The Victorian Government welcomes the Melbourne Rebels’ commitment to remain part of the Super Rugby competition and not sell its licence.

A Super Rugby franchise in Melbourne is crucial for the growth of the game in Victoria, which is why the Government is working with the Melbourne Rebels, the Victorian Rugby Union and the Australian Rugby Union to ensure the club remains in the competition going forward.

The Victorian Government believes any decision to withdraw the Melbourne Rebels from the Super Rugby competition would be a retrograde step by the Australian Rugby Union.

Since the Melbourne Rebels were established in 2011, Victoria’s rugby union participation rates have increased by 97 per cent. In 2016, participation rates increased by 38 per cent to reach 15,829.

Melbourne has the fastest growing population in Australia and will soon become the nation’s most populous city. If the Australian Rugby Union wants to grow the game across the nation, Victoria and the Melbourne Rebels is an essential cornerstone of its strategy.

The governing body regularly turns to Melbourne for the big blockbuster events, such as British and Irish Lions tours and the Bledisloe Cup. Victoria has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the sport, so it would seem incongruent to withdraw the presence of ongoing, professional rugby from the State.

Rugby Union has made a tremendous contribution to the Victorian community. The VRU Pacific Island Emerging Leaders Program helps players with a Pacific Island background in areas of personal development, welfare and education.

Victoria is the sporting capital of the world and the nation’s leader for major events. Australian Rugby Union can only lay claim to being a truly national code in an international competition if Victoria is a key component of its plans.

The Government will continue to work with the Victorian Rugby Union, Melbourne Rebels and Australian Rugby Union.