RA chiefs reveal why they thought eliminating rebels was their only option

Rugby Australia chief executive Phil Waugh outlined the reasons why the governing body rejected a rescue plan for the Melbourne Rebels after the Super Rugby team was eliminated by 2025 on Thursday.

Waugh and RA president Daniel Herbert addressed a press conference at which Waugh revealed that RA had been working on three scenarios regarding the rebels: exclude them from the competition, have RA support them financially or allow a private consortium backed by Leigh Clifford took over the license. and finance the equipment.

Waugh indicated that RA’s financial situation made the first two impossible and claimed that the private bid failed to add up.

Clifford is expected to launch court action against RA on Monday.

Phil Waugh, CEO of Rugby Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“We have given an enormous amount of time to that consortium to present information. We split that information into five different information requests,” Waugh told reporters in Melbourne.

“The first is financial viability. The second is governance and risk. The third is the commercial strategy. The fourth is high performance. And the fifth is the growth of the game.

“We finally got the information or part of the information that we had requested in the middle of last week in a data room. We have analyzed that information in depth. And then we met with a member of the consortium earlier this week.

“Once again, give the consortium every possible opportunity to make a compelling case to support the Melbourne Rebels in 2025.”

Herbert added: “We have informed the Melbourne Rebels staff and playing group that the participation license to participate in the 2025 Super Rugby season was not granted to the consortium due to the lack of detail and transparency recently provided to us.

Rugby Australia president Dan Herbert poses during the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.  National media ticketing opportunity at King George Square, Brisbane on March 18, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia.  Rugby Australia today announced ticket sales dates for the British & Irish Lions' 2025 tour of Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

Rugby Australia president Dan Herbert. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

“We have been waiting for some time to allow the consortium to get as much information and as much detail as accurate information so that we can make a decision.

“That was not enough to satisfy what we would consider a reasonable level of risk. So we had to make that decision today for the 2025 season, just for the men’s Superseason.”

Herbert said the future of the Women’s Super Team would be assessed separately and that RA would “continue to work with the Victorian Rugby Union to ensure the delivery of important community programmes”.

Herbert described it as “a very difficult day for rugby and a very difficult day for rugby fans in Melbourne. “It was a very difficult day for the fans, the players and the staff, but we felt we had to make a decision.”

Waugh said RA remains “absolutely committed to rugby in Victoria. All of our commitment to the community game, to our pathways, to the women’s pathway, we are committed to rugby in Victoria.

“And we will continue with that commitment. “And we look forward to working with Rugby Victoria, Visit Victoria and the Victorian Government to invest in rugby in Victoria.”

Waugh was asked how detrimental the news was to the game in Victoria and whether there was any hope of a Melbourne-based team returning to Super Rugby.

“We have an open mind. “I think we’ve been under enormous pressure over the schedule we needed to work to in terms of giving the players certainty about their future and the staff certainty about their future,” Waugh said.

“Let’s be clear: the administrator fired all management employees the day they took office.

“We championed the Rebels for 2024. We employ 83% of the Rebels management staff. The relationship we have with the Players Association through the collective bargaining agreement ensured that the players were protected.

“So Rugby Australia has faced the Melbourne Rebels in 2024. And it was important for us to do that. It was equally important for us to give the consortium time to present a convincing position.

“In terms of the reputation of rugby in Victoria, we see strong growth in the community game. Without a doubt, the performance of the rebels in 2024 until the final is satisfactory. And the growth of women’s football is also a reason for satisfaction.

“So it’s not an ideal situation to have to reduce or eliminate the Rebels from participating in Super Rugby Pacific.

“However, we have limited resources. We have limited finances and need to invest in the game that will generate the greatest community connection as well as uplifting participation.”

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