Rebels take lessons from 2014 campaign
Missed chances and a lack of discipline, particularly from their leaders, tells the story of the Melbourne Rebels’ 2014 Super Rugby campaign which saw them finish bottom of the pile.
But as disappointing as walking away with the wooden spoon may be, Rebels coach Tony McGahan felt that there were many gains for the side that completed only their third season in the with the big boys this year .
“We have a tremendous group, they have been absolutely fantastic all year,” McGahan said after his team’s 40-7 loss to the Bulls in their final match of the season.
“I think we probably had one week – the week after the Cheetahs – that we didn’t train well but I think every week they put their utmost in. No one has worked harder than this group and they laid a great platform to go forward with."
During the first half at Loftus Versfeld the Rebels managed to front up to a side known for its physicality, but were unable to convert pressure into points.
They created scoring opportunities, but failed to finish and were then subjected to a clinical second half display by the men from Pretoria – leaving the visitors in a position where they found it almost impossible to regain any sort of momentum.
For McGahan the lessons his men learned on their tour of South Africa were far more important than the results as a young group gained experience that he hopes would ensure they continue to grow in an unforgiving environment.
“The way the Bulls came out in the second half, they were really terrific and we didn’t make them work for their tries," he said.
“To let a side like the Bulls go up 90 meters, and you can see their forwards walk their way up, penalty from scrum, penalty from line-out, the maul – it was too easy for them and we needed to work harder to get them to the ground and do what we did in the first half.
Reflecting on the season as a whole, the Rebels mentor was particularly pleased with the moral in his camp and insisted that the effort his men put in during the 2014 season would pay off in future.
“The two weeks her on tour has been fantastic, the guys have been positive, they have done their work and worked as hard as they possibly can both on the field and in analyses to ensure they can give themselves an opportunity.
“We are lucky to have that really strong base, they know how to train hard, they know how to prepare and we just need the final parts on the field and they will come – no doubt.”
“We are three years in and we had 15 new players in the squad this year, and we have missed some critical moments in matches that have cost us momentum.
“You saw that this evening (Friday) and also last week at Ellis Park. It is tough learning and it is brutal and it is not nice, but as we continue those players and the group will feel their way through those situations and hang on to those momentum swings – which the good sides do.
Although gutted that his side are still winless on the African continent, Rebels skipper Scott Fuglistaller shared his coach’s sentiments.
“We can’t reiterate enough how positive the future is going to be for this club,” Fuglistaller said.
“We’ve changed the thought process on developing players and the way we bring them through. Teams like the Brumbies, the Force – they all have players with more than a hundred caps with the same players playing in the same combinations. If we can do that over the next couple of years it will be very good for the future.”
Coming from a part of Australia where rugby league is considered the game of the gods, Fuglistaller said that the Rebels have noticed an increase in their support base and that they would continue to take measures to ensure that growth is sustained in year to come.
We’ve had the most members we’ve ever had this year which is positive gains. And now it is just about rewarding those loyal fans which will give us more bums on seats.
By Michael Mentz