Acknowledging the women that have made this club, and our game, something we can all be proud of.
This June marks 6 years for me as CEO of Melbourne Rebels. It’s been a wonderful, challenging, rewarding experience that’s often filled me with pride. Hard work, determination, fight and on field performance are incredibly important to me.
Celebrating and acknowledging the off-field contributions, personal successes and historic moments are equally as significant in my books. Which is why I’d like to take a moment on this International Women’s Day (IWD) to acknowledge the women that have made this club, and our game, something we can all be proud of.
At the heart of Melbourne Rebels is a firm belief that we are strengthened by our diversity. The new ways of thinking, creative ideas, resilience and empathy I’ve experienced from the women in our team, our board, our Super W squad and our wider Victorian rugby community constantly reaffirm this for me.
We are blessed in Melbourne to have incredible women involved in all areas of our game; from players, coaches and managers, to volunteers, staff and sponsors - every single woman, and every single girl is helping shape the very bright future of our great game.
We’ve proudly celebrated on field success recently with Rebels’ Ashley Marsters, Georgia Cormick, Tiarah Minns, Jade Te Aute and Mel Kawa all receiving call ups to the Wallaroos extended squad during 2022. Congratulations to Ashley Marsters who went on to thrill with some exceptional rugby performances in the Rugby World Cup in NZ late last year!
Special mentions to Vic Rugby Referee Amber McLachlan and Racing Rugby Junior Ati Liley who also featured in the RWC. Amber made her World Cup debut after officiating on the international stage since 2019, and Ati was chosen as a World Rugby Youth Unstoppable, tasked with presenting the Mastercard Player of the Match Trophy at the RWC Grand Final.
Off field, we’ve welcomed a number of brilliant new women into our commercial team, and our very own GM of Marketing and Consumer, Rachel Mitrione, has been selected to participate in the Women in Leadership Sport Program, a Change our Game initiative. Kate O’Sullivan was awarded our inaugural Mark Rowe Staff Member of the Year and Moana Leilua continues to spearhead and be a trail blazer in Super Rugby for Pasifika leadership and programs.
Exceptional women and wonderful leaders! Congratulations to these ladies and all the women in our community who’ve achieved milestones in rugby over the past year.
It is a very exciting time for women’s rugby in Australia. After we committed to being the first Super Rugby Franchise to move towards professionalising the women’s game last season, Rugby Australia has this year announced it will make additional investments into both the Buildcorp Super W and National Wallaroos Program. On the international stage, the Wallaroos Test Match calendar expanding, the Commonwealth Games are coming to Victoria in 2026 and the Women’s Rugby World Cup is on Australian soil in 2029.
Closer to home, our youth girls have recently announced a new academy program giving youth girls more elite pathway opportunities. Over the last 12 months we have saluted two icons in our game with the launch of the Lyndsey Cattermole Cup which is an independent schoolgirl 7’s tournament and Silei Etuale Cup, a XVs tournament for girls 15-17. These wonderful initiatives, supported by the WRDA and passionate drivers such as Sarah Stone and Liz Radcliff, are incredible examples of thought leadership from our women in Victoria.
Excellent progress has been made, but there is still so much more to do. Join me this IWD, and every day, in celebrating the wonderful women around us and embracing a culture of diversity.
We talk a lot about being selfless and Ubuntu “I am because we are!” Every woman in Victoria contributing to our game stand tall and be proud as you are making it great.
Be a Rebel.
Regards Baden Stephenson Chief Executive Officer