Melbourne’s new franchise will be allowed to recruit up to 10 foreign players for the 2011 Super 15.
The Australian Rugby Union hopes this will help the Rebels to be competitive in their debut season while ensuring that the other four Aussie sides aren’t weakened by player poaching. The concession will gradually be rolled back so that by 2015 Melbourne will only be allowed to have two overseas-based players in their squad, as ARU policy currently dictates.
‘It is important to ensure Melbourne can recruit a team that is competitive from day one,’ ARU chief John O’Neill said. ‘The concessions we have put in place provide Melbourne with every opportunity for immediate success, while also ensuring there is ongoing sustainability moving forward.
‘There are exciting times ahead. The addition of another Australian team and a move to a conference-style format will increase significantly the number and appeal of Super Rugby matches played within Australia.
‘We will have 20 all-Australian local derbies each season, as opposed to the current six.
‘We will be playing in five cities rather than four and we will have a side in Melbourne that could be showcasing world-class talent from overseas as well as home-grown stars.’