The Rebels is an Australian professional rugby union team from Melbourne who play in the Super Rugby competition. The team was founded in 2010 and began playing in Super Rugby in 2011. The team’s colours are based on Victoria’s traditional colour of navy blue.
The Rebels is coached by former South African sevens player Kevin Foote. Foote previously served as the team’s defence coach.
The Rebels’ home ground is AAMI Park, which officially opened in 2010. The stadium has a total capacity of 30,050 that is reduced to 29,500 for Super Rugby matches.
The Victorian government built the stadium as a specialised rectangular stadium to cater to multiple sports: football, rugby league and rugby union.
Before beginning their first campaign in Super Rugby with a game against the Waratahs, the Rebels played pre-season games against Tonga and Fiji. They won these games with ease, giving the team confidence to start their season.
Unfortunately, their first season would not turn out successfully, as they finished 15th in the overall standings and last in the Australian conference. Just after their final round loss to the Western Force the Rebels announced the signing of three players: James O’Connor, Mitch Inman, and Kurtley Beale. Rod Macqueen would then resign as head coach and go to the board of directors. He was succeeded as head coach by the former assistant Damien Hill. At the 2011 Australian Super Rugby Awards Rebels incumbent scrumhalf Nick Phipps won the Australian conference Rookie of the year award.
The following season in 2012, new head coach Damien Hill largely struggled to find a winning formula for the Rebels. The side failed to win until the fifth round, and despite some highlights, like a comeback win against the Crusaders, the season would end in disappointment. Still, the Rebels improved slightly on their first Super Rugby season, finishing 13th in the overall standings.
In 2013 the Rebels made the signings of Scott Higginbotham and Shota Horie, which they hoped would help them improve further on the previous season. Indeed, they went one better than 2012 and finished in 12th place with a club record 36 points.
Unfortunately, in 2014 the team would regress in terms of their overall standing, finishing in 15th place. That season, Tony McGahan took over from Damien Hill as head coach.
2018 was a highlight for the Rebels, and the catalyst came with 28 players leaving the club and 20 new players making debuts. 12 of these debuts were new signings from the Force, who had just been cut from Super Rugby. Some of the signings included Will Genia, Adam Coleman, and Geoff Parling. The Rebels started the season brightly, winning 4 of their first 5 matches. Unfortunately, they narrowly missed out on the playoffs due to a few narrow losses afterwards.
In 2019 the Rebels aimed to build on their previous season. But they failed to make the playoffs again, finishing the season with 7 wins and 9 losses and 11th on the ladder. After this season they signed Quade Cooper, Luke Jones, and Matt To’omua. Laurie Weeks announced his retirement just before the season ended, finishing with 85 caps for the club, and Geoff Parling retired to join the coaching staff.
2020 saw the Super Rugby season abandoned after seven rounds due to COVID-19. The Rebels won 4 of their 8 group games in the new Super Rugby AU competition that would replace the normal Super Rugby. This allowed them to advance to the qualifying final against the Reds, marking the first time the Rebels had made the Super Rugby playoffs stage. They would go on to lose to the Reds the qualifying final by 25–13.
In 2021 the Super Rugby AU tournament remained in place, but this season the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition would be added so that Australian sides would also play New Zealand sides for 5 rounds after the AU competition ended. This season the Rebels had an indifferent season and missed out on the AU playoffs. This poor season caused coach David Wessels to resign and be replaced by assistant Kevin Foote. The Rebels’ poor season continued, and they failed to win any of their Trans-Tasman matches.
In 2022 a round-robin format returned and two teams, the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika joined the competition. The Rebels ended this season in 10th place in the log, again missing out on the playoffs.
The Rebels squad for the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season consists of the following players:
The Melbourne Rebels is the first professional rugby union team in Australia to be privately owned. It was founded with a board chaired by its majority owner, Harold Mitchell, who stepped down a few years later in 2013. He was succeeded by businessman Jonathan Ling.
In 2015, the club was sold to Imperium Sports Management. But only a couple of years later in 2017 Imperium Sports Management and its CEO Andrew Cox left the Rebels and transferred its shares to the Victorian Rugby Union. From this point to the present, Baden Stephenson has served as the CEO of the Rebels.
For everything you need to know about the Melbourne Rebels, including their upcoming fixtures, past results, and latest news, visit the team’s official website.