Melbourne Rebels and VRU to work together on building Rugby’s future
In a historic and visionary move the Melbourne Rebels have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Victorian Rugby Union (VRU) that will lead to unprecedented cooperation between the recreational and the privately owned professional levels of the Game and ultimately drive the growth and popularity of Rugby in the State.
A key part of this initiative is the appointment of former VFL Chairman and Chief Executive Ross Oakley as CEO of both the Melbourne Rebels and the Victorian Rugby Union. This will provide a stable platform for Rugby’s administration in the State as Super Rugby launches in Melbourne in 2011.
Ross Oakley brings substantial experience to the role from both a Melbourne and national sports administration perspective. He is most remembered for his role as Chief Executive of the Victorian Football league, presiding over its transformation into the Australian Football League.
Melbourne Rebels Chairman, Harold Mitchell AC, said, “Ross fully understands the challenges of establishing a foundation club having overseen AFL’s expansion into Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Fremantle. We are very lucky to have someone with such experience at the helm for what is an exciting time for Rugby in Victoria.”
“Importantly his dual role through the MOU will ensure that the recreational levels of Rugby at school and club level will form a part of the overall Melbourne Rebels’ vision for Rugby in Victoria. Ross is fully supportive of our pursuit of excellence from the outset and our ambition to be innovative while at the same time being prepared to challenge the status quo both on and off the field, as the name Rebels suggests.”
“Ross will take over the reins immediately from Pat Wilson who has been Acting CEO for the last four months. Pat has been great for the Rebels and has built an administration platform for the business that will allow a smooth transition into Ross’ tenure. Pat will continue to provide contract services to us, particularly in the area of team and player services,” added Mitchell.
VRU President and Rebels board member, Tim North, applauded the new era for Victorian Rugby, “This is a momentous and significant milestone for the future of Rugby in Victoria. Ross Oakley, in the time he has been on the VRU Board, and more lately as CEO, has brought us a high level of professionalism, credibility and critically a strong sense of leadership. He now takes up the crucial role of CEO across the entire Rugby business in the State and the Victorian Rugby community is excited at his appointment and this unique relationship with the Rebels.”
Commenting on his appointment Ross Oakley said, “I am delighted to be joining the Melbourne Rebels, who have already recruited world class coaching and playing staff and developed a relationship and culture between the franchise and the Victorian Rugby community that is based on mutual respect, transparency, cooperation and trust.”
“As a result of the advent of the Rebels, Rugby now as a truly national footprint in Australia and I firmly believe it has an enormous amount to offer our City and State. The Rebels will not only bring the exciting prospect of elite interstate Rugby matches to Melbourne, but importantly, as Super Rugby is an international competition, the Rebels provide Melbourne with its first ever international team. It is a team of which Melbourne can be truly proud,” added Oakley.
The Melbourne Rebels have also recruited the services of the former Head of Communications of the International Rugby Board, Greg Thomas, as its Head of Media. He has over 15 years experience in sports media management including the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and five Rugby World Cup tournaments, including next year’s tournament in New Zealand.
About Ross Oakley
Following an extensive commercial career involved in managing companies including AAMI and Royal Insurance, Ross Oakley was appointed Chairman and CEO of the then troubled Victorian Football League in 1986. Over the next decade, Ross oversaw one of the country’s greatest sports business transformations, steering the VFL’s change to the Australian Football League, now the country’s pre-eminent and dominant sporting competition. In 2009, Ross was recognised with induction into the AFL Hall of Fame.