A bit of ‘up you’: DC backs Rebels to respond, reflects on future – ‘haven’t got skills with dancing or table tennis’


Even outgoing NSW Waratahs coach Darren Coleman, punted for missing the finals for the first time in his three-year tenure, reckons the Melbourne Rebels have been harshly treated.

A week before making their maiden finals appearance, the cash-strapped Rebels were told on Thursday they’d been cut from the 2025 Super Rugby Pacific competition.

Coleman only has sympathy for Melbourne counterpart Kevin Foote and his Rebels players and staff.

“It puts it in perspective. Like I controlled my destiny and I just wasn’t good enough to get the team where it needed to be,” Coleman said.

“Whereas I genuinely feel for Kevin and his staff down there.

“They’ve had a good year, and to be where they are on the ladder and going into finals off the back of the turbulence they’ve had to push through is a mark of particularly his leadership and the boys down there to stay with the task.

NSW Waratahs coach Darren Coleman (Photo by Getty Images).

“I’ve got nothing but strong thoughts and best wishes for those guys. I know most of them pretty well, the coaches and a lot of the players I know well as well.

“They’re all good men, so I’m confident over time they’ll find jobs again, but it’s a sad situation.”

Sitting sixth ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Fiji Drua in Lautoka, the Rebels can finish anywhere from sixth to eighth depending on results of this week’s last-round matches.

They are guaranteed finals football for the first time before being cut adrift.

Like his wooden-spoon Waratahs against Queensland on Friday night, Coleman believes the Rebels could react in “one of two ways”.

But he suspects their brutal treatment will galvanise the Rebels and fire them up.

“Like I look at us tomorrow, we’ve got a couple of options here – to just fizzle out and say it doesn’t mean anything this game, or to leave giving it our all,” Coleman said.

“They’ve got two weeks to get up now for their first semi game. They’ve got enough good players and Kevin (and) his staff are smart enough that I reckon they’ll draw on that bit of emotion.

“It might even be a bit of ‘up you’ to the decision-makers on that as well.

“I’m not sure how they’ll use that, but they’ll use it well.”

“Definitely some mixed emotions, obviously for me personally to finish up,” Coleman said at Thursday’s captain’s run.

“It’s a sad note but we’re really excited to finish on a high and, more importantly, there’s some really good Waratah men that are probably finishing their careers with the Waratahs tomorrow.

“So I’m excited for that.”

The Reds are assured of facing the Chiefs in New Zealand in the quarter-finals regardless of the result, but the Waratahs are motivated too. 

“I guess it’s a match for pride on a few fronts,” Coleman said.

“Obviously we’ve had a poor season so we want to finish with a positive impact and I generally want to see smiles on people’s faces, both as supporters and staff and players within the group.

“Then you throw into the mix that we’re playing the Reds, which is the oldest rivalry in Australian rugby, so I think the boys would be really up for an energetic and purposeful performance.”

After three seasons at the helm, including finals appearances in 2022 and 2023 after inheriting the winless 2021 Waratahs, Coleman is unsure where his future lies but hopes it’s in rugby somewhere.

“I haven’t got too much skills with dancing or table tennis,” he said.

“I think it’s rugby for me. I’ve been in rugby since I was 21 as a job, so I’ll stay in it. I love the game.

“The game’s given me so much. Yeah, I’ve been bucked off the horse this time but I’ll get back on it for sure.”

The journeyman 51-year-old who boasts stints with the LA Giltinis, Japan, Italy, NSW Country Eagles, Shute Shield and in an assistant role at the Brumbies is open to moving anywhere.

“With this day and age of Sydney mortgage prices, you can’t stay out of work for too long,” Coleman said.

“So I will take a little bit of time to reflect but, like anyone, you’ve got to get on the phone and work.

“And besides that aspect of it and looking after the family, I want to.

“I genuinely feel I’ll be better for this experience.”

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