Rebels finally seal Lipman deal
May 24, 2010
Former Bath captain Michael Lipman is on his way to Melbourne to link up with the Rebels © Getty Images
The Melbourne Rebels have announced the signing of former England and Bath flanker Michael Lipman.
Lipman left the Recreation Ground in disgrace last summer after being implicated in a drugs scandal arising out of a club enquiry into an end-of-season party in London. He was subsequently hit with a nine-month ban by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for missing a drugs test but had been set to join the Rebels upon its expiration in February.
The Australian Rugby Union initially vetoed the deal but it has now cleared Lipman, who has been playing with Sydney club Warringah in the interim, to sign for Super Rugby's newest franchise.
"We've been in discussions with Michael for some time now and are delighted he's made the decision to come to Melbourne, having received the endorsement of the Australian Rugby Union," Rebels assistant coach Mark Bakewell said. "There's no doubt he will add metal to our forward pack and make a significant contribution to the establishment of our club culture."
Lipman, for his part, is delighted that he has finally been given the green light to resume his top-flight rugby career.
"Since I have been back in Australia I've had wonderful support and enjoyed the special team spirit at Warringah," he said. "I can't think of a better place to continue my rugby career than Melbourne with (head coach) Rod Macqueen and his coaching staff."
Meanwhile, the Rebels have also successfully managed to tempt Newcastle Knights winger Cooper Vuna into a cross-code switch.
"This is an incredible stadium (AAMI Park) and to play here in Melbourne presents such a great opportunity for me," said Vuna. "But my decision to become a Rebel next year is based as much on the off-field opportunities as the on-field. Rod Macqueen impressed me with his ideas about balance in life and what happens after rugby. I also want to make my dad proud.
"My time in Newcastle has been fantastic and everyone there has been a great support to me and my wife, Necia. While I'm really looking forward to next year and the big move, my focus will be with the Knights and my team-mates until the end of the season."