Melbourne ready to Storm into Super15

Melbourne rugby bosses have promised to make the new Super 15 team bigger than the Storm if they are awarded the new Super Rugby team for the 2011 tournament.

The Melbourne Storm are an Australian professional rugby league football club based in the city of Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne rugby officials are adamant the sports-mad city deserves the new Super 15 franchise which is on track to be announced in October this year.

Melbourne Rugby Union Football Club representative Barry Bowler says the city has the infrastructure, supporter base and player network to be as successful as any franchise in Australia.

Nine clubs make up the Victorian club rugby competition, with 63 teams over three senior grades, plus colts. Add to that 90 junior sides from under-6s through to under-18s and a Melbourne franchise would seem to have a significant advantage over a western Sydney or Gold Coast side.

“Rugby league has always been a much smaller competition (here).” he told the Brisbane times.

“The number of clubs have never been as great, so if you look how successful the Storm’s been with such a small base then a Melbourne rugby side would easily be as successful in its first year,” said Bowler, whose club has such strong links with Sydney premier side Randwick they adopted the same colours after World War II when the Galloping Greens supplied them with jerseys.

“They’ve done very well the Melbourne Storm and we’re happy to have them, but all our premier-division clubs have to have three senior teams and a colts team, and two rugby pitches, so our infrastructure and player base is much stronger.

“The VRU is celebrating its 100th year, which shows rugby has a strong foothold in Victoria and Melbourne.

“A Super Rugby franchise would be much more successful than the Storm because there’s a much broader following throughout the state.”

“There’s a much wider reach of clubs and supporters.

“We showed with the ARC that consistently, we had some of the best crowd figures in the competition. And there wasn’t much time or promotion to get that running.”

If Melbourne are awarded the 15th team in the Super 15 they would share a purpose-built rectangular stadium, dubbed a “mini-Suncorp Stadium” with the Storm from 2011, which will also provide state-of-the-art training and fan facilities.

The VRU already has office space set aside.

Bowler added that he felt that the Super 15 team would be well supported if it was based in Melbourne.

“They get 15,000 or so on a regular basis to Melbourne Storm games, which is very good considering rugby league’s standing on a club basis in Victoria,” Bowler said.

“A lot of those people would be rugby fans who want to watch a rugby-type game, so there’ll be lots of support from them, too.”

“And there’s quite a bit of corporate support here for rugby.”

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