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Former Qantas Wallabies Captain John Eales AM has urged all Victorians to get behind their professional Rugby team, the RaboDirect Rebels, and sign up as Members of the Club.
Speaking at the Club's third and final Weary Dunlop Club Luncheon for the year, at Crown's Paladium, Australian Rugby Union Board Member Eales delivered a passionate speech that left all 700 guests present in little doubt regarding the Rugby fraternity's ongoing support for the development of the game in Victoria, primarily through the Melbourne Rebels.
Eales, whilst admitting he remains a Queensland Red fan first and foremost, today signed up for a Melbourne Rebels Membership for the 2014 season. With the Club having released their 2014 Membership packages earlier this week, the timing could not have been better.
"I will always be a Red, having played there for ten years, but I am proud to get involved with the Rebels and will cheer for them as a Member in every game they play; except against Queensland," Eales said.
The International Rugby Board, Wallaby and Australian Sport Hall of Famer believes Victorian Rugby has come on in leaps and bounds during his time involved in the sport, and Eales backed the Rebels to deliver the right platform for Victorians with aspirations of becoming professional Rugby players.
"As a Wallaby, my first game of Rugby in Melbourne was against Italy in 1994. Since then, there have been many momentous occasions for the game in Melbourne, including victories in the Bledisloe Cup and against the British & Irish Lions.
"Undoubtedly one of the most important moments for Rugby in Victoria was the first game for the Melbourne Rebels back in 2011. I believe that the future for the Rebels is very exciting indeed.
"When the Rebels play at their best, they are equal to any team in the competition, as we have seen," Eales said. "If they can deliver that on a regular basis, there is plenty of success to be found here."
Eales' sentiments were particularly releveant on a day when Victorian Rugby celebrated further gain with the selection of two Victorians, Oneata Schwalger and Ashley Marsters, in the Wallaroos training squad for the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup in France next August.
In further celebration of the biggest year of Rugby in the state's history, a number of awards were presented by the Melbourne Rebels Board Member Tim North to acknowledge success across Victorian Club Rugby.
Conway Taylor President of Harlequin Rugby Club, accepted the Dewar Shield as the winners of the Victorian Premier Rugby Competition, whilst Tyrone Landsman of the Melbourne Unicorns accepted the Cowper Shield as winners of the Club Championship.
At Schoolboy level, St. Kevins were awarded outstanding VSRU competitor whilst their Vice Captain Nicholas Gillies was named as the University of Melbourne Rugby Young Achiever Award recipient for 2013. The success of Victorian national schoolboy representatives Fereti Sa'aga, Pat Toeta and Ah-Mu Tuimalealiifano was also acknowledged, on a day of great celebration for Victorian Rugby.
To sign up as a Member of the RaboDirect Rebels CLICK HERE
The RaboDirect Rebels have signed loosehead prop Jed Gillespie to their Extended Playing Squad (EPS) for the 2015 Asteron Life Super Rugby season.
Qantas Wallaby and three time Super Rugby Champion Radike Samo will join the RaboDirect Rebels for the 2015 Asteron Life Super Rugby season.