Rugby Australia takes over Rebels after administrators called in
Rugby Australia has taken over the Melbourne Rebels after the ailing club entered into voluntary administration weeks before the start of the Super Rugby Pacific season.
The Rebels have struggled with financial problems for years and are saddled with debts of more than A$10 million ($6.61 million), the Australian Financial Review reported.
Rugby Australia (RA) said it was working with the appointed administrator to ensure the club would take the field in 2024.
"RA is committed to ensuring the Melbourne Rebels play in the 2024 Super Rugby competitions, and we will support their preparation for the new season,” RA boss Phil Waugh said in a statement on Tuesday.
"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."
The Rebels open their season with a home match against the ACT Brumbies on February 23.
Melbourne Rebels CEO Baden Stephenson said the club was determined to fulfil its commitments for the 2024 season.
The Rebels joined Super Rugby in 2011 but have struggled to maintain a foothold in the nation's second-biggest city which is dominated by Australian Rules football.
Barring the Covid-hit 2020 season, when the Rebels finished third in the domestic Super Rugby AU competition, the team has never reached the playoffs and finished 11th in the 12-team Super Rugby Pacific last year.
RA have previously stepped in to manage the Rebels, propping up the club for two years from 2013-15 before it returned to private ownership.
The government of Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, has helped support the Rebels in recent years by committing funding to RA in exchange for Wallabies Tests.
RA said it would "continue dialogue" with the government about the Rebels' future. — Reuters
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