Rebels to pay Super W rugby players

The Melbourne Rebels have announced the club will now pay their women rugby players going forward.
The Melbourne Rebels have announced the club will now pay their women rugby players going forward.

Melbourne players will be the first in the Super W rugby competition to be paid after the Rebels announced a push to make the women's program professional.

The Super W competition, which was formed in 2018, is playing catch-up to the other sports codes in paying female players, with only minimal costs covered.

But after a fund-raising rally at the team's awards night in Melbourne on Thursday night, the club decided to take an official step forward and set up a plan to pay players in the 2022 season.

Rebels boss Baden Stephenson said the payment initiative was a crucial first step towards professionalism.

"Our Super W team are such an important part of our club, they are trailblazers in our community and we have seen so much growth in the women's game here in Victoria," Stephenson said.

"It is time that they are given the appropriate level of support."

Super W head coach Alana Thomas applauded the club's decision to provide unprecedented financial support for all its Super W players.

"What this will mean is players can train and play without the burden of missing shifts at work or taking leave without pay to travel and play games," Thomas said.

"I look at what we have built to now and know this will be a game changer for our team.

"To see this great commitment made, that the Rebels wants our players moving into being professional, it's massive for us."

The initiative is part of a broader raft of changes that will see the team move officially from under Rugby Victoria to the Rebels banner and align with the men's team.

The women's team will have full access to the club's revamped AAMI Park high-performance facilities, with two double-header clashes planned across the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season.

The teams will also train together for the first time early next month.

Australian Associated Press