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By Rebels Media Unit
The Melbourne Rebels are pleased to announce the appointment of Baden Stephenson as the Club's Rugby Operations Manager, completing the Club's 2014 on-field staff.
Reporting directly to Head Coach Tony McGahan, Stephenson joins the Club following fourteen years full-time Rugby employment. Most recently Baden has spent the last four years as Executive General Manager at Sydney University Football Club, where he was responsible for managing and overseeing all elements of the SUFC business and Rugby program.
Stephenson has a long history in Rugby, as a representative player, coach and administrator. After graduating from the University of Canberra, Baden was awarded the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Rugby Scholarship in 1993.
He was the Rugby Club Manager at Tuggeranong Valley Rugby Union Club from 2000 to 2006, and the Tuggeranong Vikings 1st Grade Head Coach from 2006-2007. Baden was also the Brumbies Super Rugby Match Manager from 2005 to 2007, and was appointed as the Head Coach at Secom Rugby Club in Japan from 2007-2008, before returning home to join Sydney University.
As Rugby Operations Manager, Baden will be responsible for player recruitment, retention and contract negotiations. Furthermore, he will work closely with the Rebels' community department to help provide the elite pathway between the community and professional game in Victoria, as well as helping former Rebel Nic Henderson to deliver on a variety of '5 Star' initiatives back into Victorian Schools and Clubs.
Baden will also oversee the development of the Rebels Academy, manage the recently established Weary Dunlop Trust and the University relationships attached to it and will be primarily responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Melbourne team in the National Rugby Championship set to be launched in 2014.
Melbourne Rebels CEO Rob Clarke was excited to secure Baden's services, and believes he will be a great asset to the Club.
"Baden brings an excellent breadth of skills to the role of Rugby Operations Manager," Clarke said. "For more than two decades he has been involved in Australian Rugby, in a range of capacities. Baden has had international experience and the success he has enjoyed at the highly-respected Sydney University Football Club is indicative of his expertise and desire to win."
On the decision to have Baden report directly to McGahan, Clarke believes it will serve the Club well.
"Baden has Level 3 coaching accreditation and senior coaching experience, so he will be able to see things from Tony's point of view," Clarke explained. "He will also be able to work closely with the coaching staff to formulate the best strategies regarding player retention and recruitment, and this forward planning will ensure the Club makes considerable strides towards achieving the ultimate success in the coming years."
Stephenson is looking forward to moving south with his family.
"It is a new, exciting challenge for us; it's a little daunting to move to a new city, but we are looking forward to it," he said. "I was very impressed when I met with Rob Clarke and Tony McGahan in late December, and had no hesitation in accepting the challenge."
Stephenson is well placed to assess the Rebels, with the strong relationship between the Club and Sydney University meaning there will be no shortage of familiar faces in Melbourne.
"There is a large number of former Sydney University players at the Rebels, and that relationship has been strong for the entirety of the Rebels existence," Stephenson said. "I was also in Canberra while Rob Clarke was at the ACT Brumbies when they won the championship, and I know how highly he was regarded there. I have been highly impressed with the direction and leadership he has shown, and I firmly believe that the Club is headed in the right direction."
Baden, who will officially commence on Monday 10 February, will move to Melbourne with his wife and two children.
RaboDirect Rebels flanker Jordy Reid has extended his contract at the Club and will remain a Rebel until at least the end of the 2017.