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Super Rugby side enter administration as debts force club into dire straits

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Tuesday Jan 30, 2024

Melbourne Rebels sadly entered administration on Monday evening after a well-publicised financial battle. The club, who are just one month out from the start of the Super Rugby competition, will be hoping to have support from Rugby Australia and the Victorian Government through this difficult time.

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The club, who were also bailed out by the state government in 2017, are reportedly in debt of roughly $9 million, causing the board to elect administration as the preferred option. Paul Docherty, chairman of the Melbourne Rebels, has stepped down as a result.

Rugby Australia boss, Phil Waugh said in a statement: “The Victorian government has been a long-standing and significant supporter of professional and community rugby. Our focus is to work with the Victorian government and its key agencies…to ensure the Rebels’ participation in the 2024 Super Rugby season and the continuation of professional rugby in the state.”

Melbourne Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson added his thoughts, saying: “We don’t love hearing that – we’ve got lots of lots of staff and players contracted to 2025. “We’ve got the British and Irish Lions coming, we’re building a squad, we’re all gung-ho.

“I think for Rugby Australia, now that they’ve got the licence they’ve probably got some options. I would like to think that if Rugby Australia can help us navigate our way through 2024, that in 2025 there’s a really clear pathway and it’s almost a reset to the business.”

Coach Kevin Foote, who was an assistant at the Western Force when they were cut, said the current situation would “galvanise” the team. Speaking about the meeting he had with players following the announcement, Foote said: “The first thing we spoke about was controlling what we can control,” he told AAP of his meeting with the players on Tuesday.

“If anything this is made the players very determined – I lived through this in Perth and I can tell you this will galvanise the team but winning changes everything.

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“We’ve got to play a game that people are going to be really, really inspired by and we think we’re on the right track with it. We’ve got great recruitment and we’ve got leaders who have been at the club for a long time now who really want to show what rugby means in Victoria.”

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