Following the unveiling of the entire 2021 Super Rugby AU draw yesterday, Melbourne Rebels’ captain, Dane Haylett-Petty, says he can’t wait to return back to The Stockade for the first time in almost 12 months.
Rugby Australia confirmed that season 2021 will see 22 action-packed games take place over 12 thrilling weekends, beginning on February 19 and ending with the Final on May 8.
The Rebels are scheduled to play eight matches over the ten-week regular season, including four home games back at their beloved AAMI Park.
Having played the entire 2020 season on the road, the Rebels will play their first home in a Round 3 in a Saturday night, primetime blockbuster against the Brumbies, marking 364 days since the Rebels’ last game on Melbourne soil.
Shaping as an emotional night for both the club and the Victorian rugby community, Haylett-Petty says he’s looking forward to the special occasion and believes last season’s adversity will only make the Rebels stronger heading into season 2021.
“It’s going to be a fantastic occasion and a great celebration for the sport in Victoria,” said Haylett-Petty.
“After no home games in last year’s Super Rugby AU competition, we will all be really pumped to get back out on AAMI Park for our Round 3 clash with the Brumbies.
“Obviously last season had its challenges, but we learnt plenty of lessons and unearthed some great talent - much of it home grown.
"We will certainly take great confidence from our wins on the road in 2020, and will enter 2021, knowing we can absolutely win from anywhere!”
Melbourne’s 2021 draw will comprise of three free-to-air Saturday night games and five Friday night thrillers, with the club’s four home games coming in an exciting six-round block, offering Melburnians a live rugby feast in March and May.
The Rebels will kick off their eleventh season of Super Rugby action with an opening round bye, something Haylett-Petty believes will be advantageous, given his side will be coming off a shortened preseason.
“It’s been really exciting seeing what next season holds for us."
“I think the bye in Round 1 is great – it provides us with a crucial extra week to prepare in what’s a relatively short pre-season.
“The middle period of the season where we have back to back home games is ideal as well and will allow us to build momentum in a crucial part of the season.”
After a memorable 2020 campaign, Haylett-Petty says the Rebels will be looking to ignite their loyal fanbase even further, promising an up-tempo 2021, full dash and dare, in what will be the club’s eleventh season of Super Rugby footy.
“We’ll certainly be looking to play a more attacking style in 2021 and something our fans can really get behind and enjoy.”
Wednesday’s confirmation caps an enormous forty-eight hours for Australian rugby, following Monday’s groundbreaking announcement that Super Rugby AU was now heading to Nine Entertainment Co., specifically on Stan and Channel 9.
The new broadcast model will see all 22 matches next season shown live and on demand, ad-free, through Stan’s new streaming sport package which will launch in 2021.
Following this, one match per round, including the Finals Series, will also be simulcast live free-to-air on the Nine Network, providing fans with more access to the sport than ever before.
Haylett-Petty says it’s fantastic that all Victorians will now have the opportunity to get right behind their hometown Super Rugby team and believes the new arrangement will help enhance rugby’s accessibility and “grow the game faster than ever before.”
"Rugby on free to air television will huge for the game here in Victoria and Australia as a whole.”
“It’s certainly a really exciting time for rugby in this country.”