Rugby Australia meets with Rebels players to discuss options if Super Rugby franchise is culled


As Rugby Australia crawls towards deciding on whether to hand back the Super Rugby license to the Melbourne Rebels, the governing body has begun discussing potential new homes with the playing group should the franchise be culled.

The Roar can reveal RA officials met with the Rebels playing group and high performance staff on Monday and Tuesday to discuss their future.

While no answer to whether the Rebels would exist beyond 2024 was forthcoming, RA officials, including new director of high performance Peter Horne, held individual meetings with players to determine alternate options beyond life in Melbourne.

Players were quizzed about where they would prefer to live and play.

New Rugby Australia director of high performance Peter Horne spoke with Rebels players earlier in the week about the options at play regarding their futures. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

It’s believed the idea of the meetings was to give RA some insight into the individual needs of each player, including Horne who is still getting to grips with the playing stocks across Australian rugby after shifting from World Rugby earlier this year.

Yet, even if a player has an intended target destination, it’s unlikely every player’s needs will be catered for.

After all, it’s still unclear whether the salary cap would be increased for 2025 should the Rebels fail to get their license back.

The situation has naturally left many furious, including Rebels head coach Kevin Foote, who said throughout the week he had been left “p—-d off” that rival coaches were ready to pounce on the franchise’s carcass.

“We’ve got guys who are on contract for next year,” Foote told the 8-9 Combo Rugby podcast.

“Those players are guaranteed for next year but that’s not to say they’re not under stress because they don’t know where that’s going to be.

“But then we have this other group of players who don’t have a contract next year. Now, some of those guys, they were right down the line with us negotiation-wise. Even some of them were with Rugby Australia waiting to get signed off. Those players now don’t have anything.

“So every dropped ball in training or any mistake on the field gets blown out of proportion.”

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Kevin Foote was left disappointed rivals were hatching plans to pounce on the Rebels playing cohort before a decision was made on their future. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

It comes after RA chief executive Phil Waugh last month told The Roar that the governing body was intent on making a decision sooner rather than later on the Rebels’ future to ensure the best players remained in the country.

“That’s a concern,” he said. “If we’re going to be competitive in 2025 we need to ensure that we have a good roster, so that’s important.”

The meetings occurred as the competition approaches the penultimate round, with the Rebels on track to make their maiden finals campaign.

They also occurred 24 hours after former director Georgia Widdup addressed the Rebels on Sunday and said private investors remained ready to back the franchise’s future.

It’s understood RA was recently provided a 100-page document providing further details about the private consortium, which is promising to throw in $30 million to ensure the Rebels continue.

With the ball back in court, it’s understood a decision on whether RA will back the Rebels’ proposal will be made over the next fortnight.

In the meantime, the playing group remains frustrated by the state of limbo they’ve existed in ever since the Super Rugby franchise fell into voluntary administration at the end of January after racking up $22m of debt.

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