Rebels adamant they are safe from Super axe
NEWS: The Melbourne Rebels are adamant their future in the Super Rugby competition is secured after owner Andrew Cox transferred shares to the Victorian Rugby Union.
As reported on Friday, the Kiwi-born multi-millionaire Cox (Imperium Sports Management) transferred its shares for AUS$1 to the VRU, effectively giving the Union a controlling stake in the franchise.
The franchise released a statement on Sunday confirming the news and have stated that VRU has notified the Australia Rugby Union (ARU) of the change in ownership.
The change of hands does put a spanner in the ARU's Super Rugby culling process.
"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 statement said.
It further read: "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),"
Meanwhile, the 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 franchise some much-deserved success.”
An interim Board has been established as the franchise prepare for the 2018 Super Rugby season.