Advertisement

Rebels players vow axed Super club will end on a high

Melbourne Rebels players are vowing to "hold their heads high and have a crack" in their final Super Rugby Pacific matches after being told the club will be be cut by Rugby Australia (RA).

The Rebels received the brutal blow as they were preparing to travel to Fiji for the last regular round of the competition against the Drua on Saturday before a historic first appearance in the finals.

A best-ever season result for the club wasn't enough to save the Rebels, with RA delivering the news on Thursday before the playing group left for the airport.

With Melbourne's future in major doubt since they entered voluntary administration in January, coach Kevin Foote told AAP the players and staff at least now knew where they stood.

But he said it was still very tough to hear that plans by a private consortium to rescue the club hadn't been accepted by RA.

"Deadly silent, just absolute devastation, no-one said a word," Foote said of the players' reaction in the meeting with RA at AAMI Park.

He said the playing group and staff then got together and spoke about how they would approach the remaining games.

Currently sitting seventh on the ladder, their quarter-final opponent won't be confirmed until after this weekend's round.

"We said we've really got the opportunity to finish strong and the group and playing staff are really motivated to do that," Foote told AAP.

"We're going to hold our heads high and have a crack."

Kevin Foote.
Kevin Foote preparing his team (left) for their round seven clash with Fijian Drua in Melbourne, (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

RA said there was "no good time" to break the news of their decision and were aware of the stress the uncertainty had caused for players and staff in the past five months.

"There's no good time for this," said RA chief executive Phil Waugh.

"I was very clear when the Rebels went into voluntary administration that we would make a decision as quickly as we could with all the appropriate information.

"We received that information last week and had a presentation this week and we then analysed all of the information and we made the decision as quickly as we could to give certainty to players and staff."

Foote felt RA could have done more to support the Rebels in the early stages, pointing to the backing the AFL provides to its expansion clubs to ensure success through talent and resources.

The decision is especially tough on Foote, who was an assistant coach at the Western Force when they were axed from Super Rugby in 2017.

He said he planned to spend time with his family before considering his next move.

"It's been so tough, so stressful for all of the families," Foote said.

"I'm motivated for the end of the season and then it's time for a break."