The under pressure Melbourne Rebels have secured the signing of recent Aviva Premiership champion, Geoff Parling.
Parling was a member of the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia four years ago. Not only was he a member, he was selected to play in all three test matches. Throw into the mix his fifty-four tests for England and you get an idea of the magnitude of the signing.
His experience will prove invaluable for the struggling franchise. But it is more than his experience in this instance that counts, it is the intent of the franchise.
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) June 6, 2017
The news regarding the signing has become public over the last few hours, which is obviously massive news for the rugby community throughout Victoria. It would appear, from the outside looking in, to cement the stability of the Melbourne Rebels within the Super Rugby competition. The signing places the advantage firmly towards the Rebels, with the spotlight now on the Western Force.
Despite their best efforts with the ‘Own the Force‘ campaign, it seems that the pressure is now on the Force.
However, rightly, or wrongly, the future of both franchises may still be in Super Rugby.
A few weeks ago, the ARU attempted to buy out the Melbourne-based franchise, in order to remove them from Super Rugby. This was largely due to the increasing support of the Force by both fans and the ARU. Despite this, the ARU was unable to meet the demands of owner Andrew Cox, so the Rebels live another day.
SANZAAR are apparently going to meet in London in a few weeks, where they plan to discuss the future of Super Rugby once again.
With the recent developments surrounding both franchises, it would appear that the proposed 15 team format for next season may not come to fruition.
The ARU will likely bid to include both franchises in the competition for the 2018 season, despite this arguably not being the best option. The issue surrounds depth in Australian rugby, yet due to this big signing, it can’t be ruled out that Australia will have five teams next season.
Over the next few days, speculation across the Tasman will continue to amplify. It would be fair to assume that Australian rugby fans can expect an end to this drama soon, but perhaps an ending with no real significance.
Author: Finn Morton
To say I’m obsessed with sport is an understatement. It was due to this passion that I realised a career in sports journalism was the way to go. I’m looking to spread my passion for sport whilst gaining some valuable experience.