Rebels in talks to bring Super Rugby to Tarneit

Western United's training facility in Tarneit which could soon also be home to the Melbourne Rebels rugby union club. (supplied) 399315_01

Cade Lucas

The Melbourne Rebels could soon be based out of Western United’s base at the Regional Football Facility in Tarneit.

Just days before Western United’s men’s team play their first A-League game in Tarneit, it’s emerged that the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union Club is in talks to move both their men’s and women’s teams to the Regional Football Facility.

A private equity-backed consortium representing the Rebels is believed to be in the final stages of negotiations with Western Melbourne Group, the owners of the A-League club and the venue, to have the two clubs share the facility.

Led by former Qantas chair and former Rio Tinto chief executive Leigh Clfford and featuring other leading figures from the Melbourne business community, the consortium is seeking to move the struggling Super Rugby franchise to Wyndham as a way of securing their future in Victoria.

Wyndham is home to one of the largest Pasifika communities in Victoria and already boasts a large rugby union fan base.

The deal would include the Rebels playing games at the recently opened 5000 capacity Regional Football Facility and then at the 15,000 capacity stadium which is anticipated to be ready for the 2026-27 A-League season and the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Both the federal government and Wyndham council have been briefed on negotiations over recent months.

Western Melbourne Group chairman Jason Sourasis said the potential deal made sense for both clubs.

“There are obvious synergies hosting both Western United and the Melbourne Rebels and naturally, we are keen to explore those opportunities,’’ said Mr Sourasis, who is also executive chairman of Western United.

“Our first women’s A-League game at Tarneit last month was a great success and this Saturday the 6th of April we take another huge step with the first Men’s A-League game at the facility.

“The growth of both our organisations will come from connecting with the local community and providing a precinct that the region can be proud to call their own.

“We welcome the opportunity to continue to achieve that connection in close collaboration with the Melbourne Rebels women’s and men’s teams.’’

Consortium spokesperson and current Melbourne Rebels director Georgia Widdup said the move to Tarneit would be the game-changer for both the club and rugby in Victoria.

“We have an exciting vision and a detailed, common sense plan to grow the sport of rugby in the fastest growing municipality in Australia,’’she said.

“The Rebels are committed to the women’s game, the Pasifika community and important programs for the western region’s youth and this move will enable us to significantly expand these critical areas.’’

The Rebels were placed into voluntary administration earlier this year and their future in the Super Rugby competition is still in question.

The Melbourne Rebels consortium is believed to be well on the way to raising $20-$30 million from private equity to invest in the club over coming years and secure its future.