The Melbourne Rebels and Kintetsu have today announced a further strengthening of their international partnership, with Kintetsu upgrading to become a major partner of the Rebels.
The Kintetsu brand will now feature prominently on the International Playing Jersey of the Rebels for their opening Super Rugby match of 2020 in Fukuoka.
The announcement continues the momentum of Rugby success for Kintetsu, with the Kintetsu Liners earlier this month emphatically winning the Japanese Top Challenge League, being undefeated in all competition matches.
The Liners now await the finalisation of the format of the 2021 Japanese Top League competition before knowing whether they will be promoted to the Top League as has become established custom.
Speaking from Fukuoka, Melbourne Rebels General Manager of Commercial, Ross Xenos, said:
“The Melbourne Rebels feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to build a very strong and open working relationship with Kintetsu, in particular the executive and coaching staff of the Liners. We have embraced the opportunity to share and learn from one another, and it is no surprise to us to see their on-field success given the work ethic and expertise of their people.
"We feel that our partnership has evolved very quickly based on consistent, transparent communications and a genuinely shared desire to do things differently.
"Today’s announcement is an outstanding testament to the depth of the relationship that we have built and we are very proud that Kintetsu have felt so committed to further enhance our partnership.
"We have seen the explosion of Rugby in Japan post World Cup, and the Liners recent success has presented this opportunity to elevate our association.
"Similarly we look forward to working with Kintetsu to connect them more closely into various strategic and business opportunities in Melbourne and Victoria.”
Such sentiments were echoed by Kintetsu Liners General Manager, Iizumi Kagehero:
“In partnering with the Melbourne Rebels, the Kintetsu Liners were seeking a competitive advantage and to add further expertise to our Rugby program. It has also given us a very unique opportunity to have our players and coaches have very open access to a Super Rugby training and coaching program which we believe has not only been very beneficial for us in the recent Top Challenge League season, but will also continue to reap benefits in years to come.
"The Kintetsu Liners are celebrating our 90th year in 2020. We are very proud of our history and we are seeking a future of sustainable success. Our partnership with the Rebels is a big part of that future and today’s announcement is further example of our preparedness to leverage our relationship for the betterment of both organisations.”
Several Liners coaches and players were fully integrated into the Rebels training program this week in Fukuoka, providing an exceptional opportunity to share knowledge and experience.
In 2020, the Melbourne Rebels will wear their International Playing Jersey in their five games played outside of Australia - in Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina. Tomorrow’s Rebels vs. Sunwolves match is the first Super Rugby match being played in Japan since the conclusion of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Next month, the Rebels will be joined by several players and coaches from the Liners who will shadow the Rebels day-to-day and participate in various sessions; before the entire Liners squad will travel to Melbourne in August for an exhibition match between the two Clubs.