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Melbourne Rebels in danger as CEO and staff lose jobs - report

By Josh Raisey
Rebels players prepare for a scrum during the Super Rugby Pacific Trial Match between Melbourne Rebels and NSW Waratahs at Harold Caterson Reserve on February 03, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

Just days after entering voluntary administration, the Melbourne Rebels have seen their entire non-playing coaching staff, including chief executive Baden Stephenson, be made redundant.

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According to a report in The Age, administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers terminated the contracts of the workforce in the face of $20 million in debts and with only  $17,300 in the bank.

The players have been kept on as they are also contracted to Rugby Australia, who have stepped in to put a small number of administrative staff and the Rebels’ coaching staff on short-term contracts until the end of the forthcoming Super Rugby Pacific season.

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Luke Jacobson is ready for the challenge of being Super Rugby favourites

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Luke Jacobson is ready for the challenge of being Super Rugby favourites

That means Kevin Foote and his coaching team will remain with the Rebels this year, which begins for his side with a visit from the Brumbies on Friday February 23. There is very little certainty as to what lies ahead for the team after this season though.

Super Rugby Pacific chairman Kevin Malloy has suggested that the Rebels’ current position may change their plans for a competition restructure in 2026.

“I wouldn’t call it a cloud. I think it’s just a reality that we have to deal with,” he said at the Super Rugby Pacific launch on Auckland Harbour on Wednesday.

“We feel really engaged and involved in understanding exactly what Rugby Australia are working through. And part of that conversation is obviously starting to think about the future, but I think we’ve signalled well in advance of this tournament that we’re doing that anyway.

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“Logically 2026 has been the time frame with media rights cycles and that sort of thing. So [that’s when] we would think about if there would be any material change in the competition… clearly what’s happened with the Rebels has just brought that conversation forward slightly.”

Rugby Australia CEO Phil Waugh said: “We’re working through that process. I think [the super round is] exciting. You’ve got six games in one of the greatest sporting markets in the world.

“And as we heard from Trevor (Waugh was referring to Rob Leota), the captain of the Rebels up there, it’s an exciting and a huge opportunity for the locals to come out and support rugby and see some of the best players in the world.”

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Comments

10 Comments
P
Pecos 119 days ago

Ditch them from 2025 & bring in an Argie or Japanese franchise. Or an American/Canadian combined one? Australia then has a deeper pool of players to strengthen the 4 home franchises.

J
Jon 119 days ago

I think this article is in error, and should say “Melbourne have seen their entire non-coaching staff made redundant, not the their non playing staff.

Obviously you don’t need those staff if youre not going to be around another year, so I think this news pretty much puts to bed any idea ARU will keep them around for another year?

S
Sumkunn Tsadmiova 120 days ago

“in the face of $20 million in debts and with only  $17,300 in the bank….”

Well it’s not all doom and gloom. All they need to do is find a horse running with odds of 1155/1 or better, put their remaining 17.3k on him to win and, bingo, debt covered!

On a more pragmatic front, perhaps trying to run a rugby franchise in Victoria, that hasn’t the slightest interest in, or clue about, rugby wasn’t the brightest commercial idea. Might as well try selling ice creams on the moon.

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