Exclusive: RA set to pull trigger on Rebels with players called in for meeting with Phil Waugh


Rugby Australia is expected to announce this morning the Melbourne Rebels will be axed from the Super Rugby Pacific competition.

The Roar understands Rebels players have been called to a 10am meeting at AAMI Park where they will be addressed by RA chief executive Phil Waugh.

The players are due to fly out to Fiji for their match against the Drua later in the morning with check in at 11.45am.

The Rebels board is understood to be preparing legal action against RA in anticipation that Waugh will announce the Rebels will be cut from the Super Rugby competition.

It’s understood the Rebels’ women’s players have also been called in.

The timing would come as a significant blow to the team which has qualified for the Super finals.

The Rebels have been playing under a shadow for most of the season with speculation rife that RA were to remove them from the competition.

The club noted this in its regular team announcement website post on Wednesday.

Rob Leota. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

“The sense of enormity of the upcoming weeks is not lost on the group. After a turbulent year off field, and the challenges they have faced, the Rebels have shown that with great leadership, connection and the ability to be resolute through adversity they can achieve great things as one connected group,” the article stated.

“Representing their city with pride and performing on the field for their fans has been a key component of Captain Rob Leota’s messaging throughout the season, playing a brand of Rugby unique to the club that would make the Rebels faithful proud.”

The club went into into voluntary administration earlier this year with RA willing to help keep the club alive in 2024 but offering no guarantees beyond this season.

A report from the private administrator Stephen Longley said the Rebels appeared to have traded whilst insolvent over the last five years.

“My preliminary view is that the Company may have traded whilst insolvent from 31 December 2018, and that it is likely that all debts that remain unpaid were incurred which could result in an insolvent trading claim exceeding $16.8m,” he said.

Longley suggested liquidation was not the ideal solution, accepting a settlement from a the investor group that emerged this year.

Aprivate equity-backed consortium led by former Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford announced in April that it was in the ‘final stages of high-level talks’ to move the Rebels to Melbourne’s Western Suburbs and join forces with the A-League’s Western United.

The consortium aimed to raise between $20 million and $30m to save the beleaguered club.

Under the plan,the Melbourne Rebels’ would aim to share Western United’s Wyndham Regional football facility in Tarneit, in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne.

Consortium spokesperson Georgia Widdup said in the statement the move to Tarneit “would be the game-changer that the Melbourne Rebels and the sport of rugby desperately needs in Victoria.

“We have an exciting vision and a detailed, common-sense plan to grow the sport of rugby in the fastest-growing municipality in Australia,” Widdup said.

“The Rebels are committed to the women’s game, the Pasifika community and important programs for the western region’s youth and this move will enable us to significantly expand these critical areas.”

More to come

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