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.

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.

The original Western Force team. How things have changed. Photo: Christian Sprogoe/PHOTOSPORT
The original Western Force team. How things have changed. Photo: Christian Sprogoe/PHOTOSPORT

However, rightly, or wrongly, the future of both franchises may still be in Super Rugby.

Super Future

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.

Parling is not the first England player to head south for the Melbourne Rebels. Cipriani paved the way. Photo: Martin Seras Lima
Parling is not the first England player to head south for the Melbourne Rebels. Cipriani paved the way.
Photo: Martin Seras Lima

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.

Photos: www.photosport.nz

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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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It’s shocking how the ARU/SARU and SANZAAR as a whole have gone about this. But to be honest and no disrespect to Geoff Parling, he is hardly a Sonny Bill/Dan Carter esqe player, so I don’t see how a he could sway the ARU/SANZAAR’s decision on which franchise should be chopped. In my opinion Super rugby needs to be smaller and elite again.

    • Dave, that is a fair point about Parling not being a Carter or SBW, but the ARU/SARU won’t be budged anyway. Next year will almost certainly see the same number of teams and confusing format as this year.
      What is wrong with 15 teams playing 14 games and then the top 4 going to the playoffs? It seems so simple. There is an argument that teams need to travel more, but I don’t buy this. I have done some analysis on the Sharks of 1996 and the Cheetahs of 2017 and the travel now is greater, because of the jump up to Tokyo. Because you have to go to Tokyo! Tokyo! I’m all for spreading the game, but it would be easier for Saracens to play in Tokyo that anyone from SA. Go figure that one?
      Thanks again for another comment. Cheers.

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