Cape Town - The Melbourne Rebels have played another card in their efforts to preserve their Super Rugby status for 2018.
Super Rugby is set to cut the tournament from 18 teams to 15 teams next year, with Australia losing one side and South Africa two.
The Rebels, along with the Western Force, are considered "favourites" for the Australian chop, but the Melbourne-based side is putting up a legal fight against the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).
On Friday, the Rebels released a statement on their website further explaining their position and their desire to remain a Super Rugby franchise.
FULL REBELS STATEMENT:
"The Melbourne Rebels wish to reiterate its clear legal position that the ARU has no legal right to “cut” them as a team in the Super Rugby Competition. The ARU must come out and publicly put an end to the speculation. For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, neither the Melbourne Rebels nor its owners will engage with the ARU in relation to the sale or cancellation of its Super Rugby licence.
On 10 April 2017, Cameron Clyne Chairman of the ARU announced that either the Melbourne Rebels or the Western Force would be “cut” within 48-72 hours despite having no contractual or legal ability to do this.
The Melbourne Rebels made a statement on Good Friday of its position and requested that the ARU come out and immediately state that it could not cut the Rebels. We are now five weeks further into the 2017 season with no statement from the ARU. The ongoing speculation concerning our future has tested the resolve of the Club, our sponsors, our members and our fans. The ARU actions are not only impacting our 2017 season, they are now impacting our 2018 season.
The Melbourne Rebels are a key tenant in one of the world’s greatest sporting precincts and we intend on representing professional rugby in Melbourne for a long time to come. The Melbourne Rebels acknowledge the strong support given by the Victorian Government to the Club and rugby in the State.
We ask our fans, supporters and members to get behind the Melbourne Rebels and demonstrate that rugby is alive and thriving in Melbourne, Victoria, the sporting capital of the world, at our next home game against the Crusaders on Saturday 27 May.
We thank them all for their ongoing support and encourage them to continue to stand with us."