The future of Victorian rugby hangs in the balance as the Melbourne Rebels wait for the ARU’s decision as to whether they will stay in the Super Rugby competition.
South African New Zealand Australian Rugby (SANZAAR), the governing body of Southern Hemisphere rugby met in London last month to discuss decreasing the number of teams in the competition.
Melbourne Rebels are one of the two Australian teams facing the axe from the Super Rugby competition next year.
Perth based Western Force are the other team facing the chop.
The Rebels introduction to Super Rugby in 2011 by the ARU was aimed at trying to build rugby’s popularity in Victoria and getting kids playing rugby instead of AFL or soccer.
This plan has backfired.
Spokesmen from the Rebels, said “we are approaching each day business as usual,” in the light of ongoing talks surrounding the club’s future.
Yet the reality is the Rebels could lose their licence.
A lackluster start to 2017 consisting of zero wins from five games plus low crowd attendances haven’t helped the Rebels chances of surviving.
The state of Victorian junior rugby according to Mr Robert Windle, ex 1st XV coach at St. Kevin’s College, Melbourne, “is massively struggling,” he said.
Rugby hasn’t got the “support and infrastructure,” behind it like other sports have in Victoria, Windle said.
With rugby being secondary to most sports in Victoria, Windle said “rugby needs more players,” and the Rebels possible axing would significantly impact the growth of rugby in Victoria.
Recently the Rebels first grade and their under 20’s have produced their first “born and bred Victorians,” Windle said.
Having the Rebels cut would end the pathway for top schoolboys to play for the Rebels and Wallabies.
The ARU’s decision is expected over the next week.