Super Rugby Review: Rebels

Date published: July 19 2016

With the Super Rugby quarter-finalists now decided we take a look at those teams who missed out. Next up, the Rebels.

The Rebels had a season of two halves. They started off fairly well after they joined the Brumbies at the top of the Australian conference after beating the Waratahs 21-17 in Sydney.

It looked as though, similar to the Lions, the traditionally weaker franchise had finally found it's feet and started to look like real conference winners. In their first eight games of the season they won five and were picking up momentum. 

But after Round Nine things went sour for the Melbourne men. They lost three games in a row, which severely dampened their confidence considering the second half of the season was lined with difficult fixtures. Which is where they completely dropped out of the conference race.

The Rebels will rue their goalkicking most of all this season. On the overall season statistics they ranked fourth in conversions missed after 16 kicks went wide, and first in penalty goals missed also with 16 missed – both worrying statistics considering those missing points together equal 80 points. 

Injuries also hampered some of their best players as Tamati Ellison, Mike Harris, Don Shipperly and prop Laurie Weeks all battled with long-term injuries. Those absences aggrieved Rebels coach Tony McGahan before their last game of the season against the Reds, especially since Harris is leaving the club to join Lyon in France and was deprived of his swansong.

"For those guys not to get the opportunity to put their boots on and play has been tough," McGahan told SBS.

"Unfortunately, Mike and Tams have been used to that this year, which is not nice."

McGahan spoke about a complete review for next season as he cannot coach a team that is so susceptible to unraveling after a few injuries.

He said before their final game of the season against the Reds that they have spent a lot of the competition just trying to make a team. The Rebels boss, however is confident for next year now that he has blooded some rookies. 

"If we get our best players on the pitch… and give everyone a full pre-season and, with the young players coming through, we've still go the ability to do really well," McGahan said. 

2016 has certainly shown there's lots of potential. Prepare for higher expectations next year.

Best Player: Sean McMahon has been a sensation for his side this year. The 22-year-old played a dynamic role for his team as he provided a solid option in the lineout while remaining a strong presence in open play, ranking fifth in the overall competition for defenders beaten. The young loose forward also showed enough leadership to captain the side in place of Nic Stirzaker at intervals throughout the tournament.