Super Rugby Pacific: Melbourne Rebels uncertainty acts as warning to competition organisers

With their Super Rugby future hanging by a thread, Melbourne Rebels are out to show they can still have a place in the competition.

Rugby Australia has made no assurances of their future beyond this year and as the upcoming season launched at Auckland, there was no avoiding the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Melbourne side.

 The Super Rugby Pacific season was launched with culture and fanfare on full display this morning, but this year brings a layer of off-field complications and for the Rebels, there's no escaping the reality this season could be their last.

Super Rugby Pacific captains launch the new season at Auckland.
Super Rugby Pacific captains launch the new season at Auckland. Photo credit: Photosport

"It's hard," admitted captain Rob Leota. "We're all human, and some things in life you find out and you've got to keep rolling."

The Rebels went into voluntary administration last month and Rugby Australia is now working with administrators to determine their future. Chief executive Phil Waugh is wary of giving players some certainty beyond this year.

"When you're starting to build out rosters, it's really important to get ahead of that early, so we're working around the clock on both streams," he said. 

The Rebels can be sure they will see out this season and Leota is urging his side to narrow their focus on succeeding on the field.

"You got two options whether you want to just throw in the towel, or choose to step up and take on the challenge," he said.

Hurricanes captain Brad Shields knows better than most the challenge of doing that - he was at Wasps, when the UK club folded in 2022.

"I probably didn't handle it too well to be fair," he said. "When something like that happens, it teaches you a lot about anxiety levels and stress levels, and your ability to be a bit resilient." 

Leota said: "I'll always be there for the guys, whether you're going through lows or highs.

"It's about being there and supporting each other throughout the process."

Melbourne Rebels will need plenty of support this year, as they face up to an uncertain future.