Statement from Victorian Rugby Union (VRU) President, Tim North QC
The Victorian Rugby Union (VRU) has assumed control of the Melbourne Rebels after the ownership was transferred from Imperium Sports Management to the VRU, effective immediately. As a result, the VRU now hold all of the shares in the MRRU on behalf of the Victorian rugby community.
The VRU has notified the Australia Rugby Union (ARU) of the change in ownership. The VRU has always kept the ARU Board and management team informed of the proposed process. The put option has been in place and agreed upon by the VRU and ARU since June 2015.
The support of the Imperium Group during this challenging period has enabled the Melbourne Rebels to be returned to the ownership of the Victorian rugby community.
It’s important to recognise the work and support of Imperium’s Managing Director, Andrew Cox and fellow Director, Peter Sidwell for their leadership over the past two years.
Melbourne Rebels Chief Executive Officer Baden Stephenson added: “the contribution of Imperium Sports Management, led by Andrew, to the Melbourne Rebels and Victorian rugby over the last two years can’t be underestimated. During this incredibly challenging period, we’ve worked closely with Andrew and the Imperium team to ensure that we have built a strong squad for 2018 with the re-signing and recruitment of some great players to deliver the club some much-deserved success.”
It is also important to recognise the extraordinary support now, and over many years, of VRU Life Members, Lyndsey Cattermole AM and Bob Dalziel. Victorian and Australian Rugby is most fortunate to have the commitment of Lyndsey and Bob to the health and growth of the game in Victoria.
With the securing of the Rebels, the VRU can now build on its already impressive participation growth numbers and further strengthen the high-performance pathway that has seen nine young Victorian players contracted to the Rebels this year.
The hard work and dedication to the development of local talent has seen four home-grown Victorians become regular Super Rugby players with the Melbourne Rebels in the past two seasons, including Sione Tuipulotu (2016), Rob Leota (2016), Jordan Uelese (2017) and Fereti Sa’aga (2017).
The Melbourne Rebels continue to provide local aspiring players with a Victorian pathway to realise their Wallabies’ dreams and deliver a successful future for Victorian rugby on a local, national and international stage.
The proof of this is the fact that since the inception of the Melbourne Rebels, junior participation in Victorian rugby has increased by 97% per cent, along with total female participation in Victoria which has increased 78% in 2016 and now represents 24% of total participation.
Victorian Rugby continues to diversify the game to reflect the communities we live in, with significant growth not only in our women’s and girl’s competition, but also across Masters Rugby, Wheelchair Rugby and the Melbourne Chargers, winners of the Bingham Cup in 2016.
An interim Board has been established with great experience in the Super Rugby team, community, and business success providing stability and experience.
Today’s announcement sets in place the foundations for a secure and positive future for the Melbourne Rebels and Victorian Rugby.