CONFIRMED: Cash-strapped Super Rugby franchise enters administration
NEWS: Rugby Australia is working with the debt-ridden Melbourne Rebels to ensure they field a team in this year’s Super Rugby Pacific competition but has offered no guarantees beyond that.
Melbourne formally entered voluntary administration, with the season set to get underway in less than a month.
The national governing body said it remains committed to rugby in Victoria but offered no clues about how that may look.
In a statement, Rugby Australia (RA) said it will focus on a “viable professional rugby footprint in Melbourne that can be sustainable and commercially successful in the future”.
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RA boss Phil Waugh said head office will work with the appointed administrator to ensure Melbourne teams play in this year’s mens and women’s Super competitions.
“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 in a statement.
“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.”
Super Rugby Pacific’s Super Round, set to take place on March 1-3 at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, will not be impacted by the Rebels’ struggles. Waugh said the Victorian government would be involved in talks over the future of the franchise, which is believed to be AUS$9 million in debt.
Executives from the Rebels called in insolvency firm Wexted Advisors last Thursday, with the board meeting over the weekend to see if they could avoid administration.
The state government previously bailed out the Rebels in 2017, reaching an agreement with RA that involved hosting rights for the Bledisloe Cup and British and Irish Lions Test matches in Melbourne.
“The Victorian government has been a long-standing and significant supporter of professional and community rugby,” Waugh said. “Our focus is to work with the Victorian government and its key agencies, to ensure the Rebels participation in the 2024 Super Rugby season and the continuation of professional rugby in the state.”