The debt-riddled Melbourne Rebels will play out the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season, but there is no long-term commitment to the club that entered voluntary administration on Monday night.
Rugby Australia confirmed it was committed to getting the Rebels, who have debts of about $9m and needed a $500,000 bailout to pay players and staff, through 2024.
But RA chief executive Phil Waugh gave no long-term commitment to the club, which could require financial assistance from the Victorian government to continue in both the Super Rugby Pacific and Super Rugby Women’s competitions beyond this season.
RA said it was going to “focus on a viable professional rugby footprint in Melbourne that can be sustainable and commercially successful in the future”.
“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,” Waugh said.
“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 Super Rugby Pacific’s Super Round, set to take place in Melbourne over March 1-3 at AAMI Park, will not be impacted by the move into administration.
Among the club’s debts are fees owed to the stadium, which is run by the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust.
Waugh said RA would continue its dialogue with the Victorian government in relation to the Rebels’ future.
“The Victorian government has been a longstanding and significant supporter of professional and community Rugby,” he said.
“Through our strong partnership – forged through decades of staging major events in Melbourne – our focus is to work with the Victorian government and its key agencies, including Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust, to ensure the Rebels’ participation in the 2024 Super Rugby season and the continuation of professional rugby in the state.”
Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson also could only clarify that the club was determined to fulfil its commitments for the 2024 season, with no word on anything beyond this year.
“Our focus as an organisation is to ensure we can deliver the 2024 season, perform well in the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific and Super Rugby Women’s competitions and to position our club in the best possible way for the future,” Stephenson said.
“Thank you to the Rebels’ players and staff, our partners and especially the members and fans for their support and patience during this time.”
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