Finals swansong? Rebels could make history in last home game


An extended administration process has seen the club living in uncertainty for months, and Foote said it was taking a toll on players and coaches. Though contingency planning discussions with players and RA are due in coming weeks, all the squad remain uncertain where they will be playing next year, and the coach spoke candidly last week that the club didn’t feel supported by Rugby Australia.

“(RA boss) Phil Waugh did come down and apologise and said he acknowledges the human factor, and communication is something they need to focus on more,” he said.

Melbourne Rebels coach Kevin Foote.

Melbourne Rebels coach Kevin Foote.Credit: Getty Images

“I am a positive guy and I always believe things will work. It is hard when you see other people this late, now – it is nearly four months now – and it is the emotional fatigue, more than anything, due to the uncertainty. Narrowing the focus helps the guys, focussing on games and getting exercise, that’s all good for mental health.”

Though RA has said on-field performance in 2024 won’t be a factor in a decision about the Rebels’ future, the team is well poised to achieve something no Melbourne team has managed before: playing in the Super Rugby finals.

Since their first season in 2011, the Rebels’ best finish has been ninth in a full Super Rugby competition. They currently sit in sixth (in a top-eight finals system) with three tough rounds remaining, and may have enough points already. But with challengers nipping at their heels, a victory at home on Friday would seal the deal and give fans something to savour. It’s easier said than done, though, against the in-form Chiefs.

“It is very motivational for everyone. But we don’t want to limp into the finals, if we get there. We want to be confident and playing a good brand of rugby, and be fit and healthy and ready to go. There is a lot to play for,” Foote said.

There are Rebels players who are currently sitting on multiple offers from other Australian teams.

There are Rebels players who are currently sitting on multiple offers from other Australian teams.Credit: Getty

“I would have loved if we had have given free tickets to every kid who plays rugby in Victoria, and to any member who has been part of us over the last 14 years. Let them come, for free, and just be involved. It would be pretty cool,” Foote said.

“There are a lot of people who have put a lot of time and money into the place, and into rugby in Victoria. And I’ll be honest, you see some of the talent coming through down here, it is pretty real.

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“There are some very good footballers around, from genuine rugby communities. It really needs to be looked after and harnessed because it can achieve things for Australian rugby.”

Foote said Rugby Australia need to ensure Rebels players are not lost to Australian rugby, in the event the club doesn’t continue.

“Some guys might choose overseas but they have to get going on that, because if want to keep Australian rugby strong we have to keep these guys,” he said.

Watch all the action from the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season, with every match ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport.



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