I read a magazine article that mentioned that the Melbourne Rebels have an arrangement with the South Australian Rugby Union to include SA academy players in their Rebels Rising team (that the Western Force 'A' played a couple of times this year).

This is off the Rebels' website before a game earlier this year...

Melbourne versus Sydney will also be an important event for rugby in South Australia.

Included in the Rebel Rising squad for the first time is Andrew Brown, the first South Australian representative to play for the side as part of the club’s partnership with SA Rugby. The second-rower has been rewarded for his dominant performances at club level, including captaining Brighton to the SARU premiership – putting in a best-on-ground performance in the grand final.

As a former captain of Parramatta Two Blues in the NSW Shute Shield, Brown has plenty of experience playing with and against Friday’s opposition. He is also a member of the Adelaide Black Falcons squad that competes in the Southern States Challenge. Incredibly, Brown is joined in the Falcons squad by three of his brothers.

Rebel Rising Coach, Josh Philpot, is delighted to be able to call on Brown and cement the relationship the club has built with the South Australian rugby community.

“We’ve had a long history with South Australian rugby, even back to the Griff Hunt tournaments at junior level,” Philpot explained.

“With South Australia being cousins to us, we’re looking to embrace them as we develop; so much so that we’re actually formalising a Memorandum of Understanding with South Australian rugby where they become a link to Rebel Rugby. It’s great to have Andrew Brown involved at the very beginning of that relationship and give him an opportunity. Hopefully he is the first of many more from South Australia in years to come that can get an opportunity in the Rebel Rugby programme.”

After playing first grade rugby in both Adelaide and Sydney, Brown is ready for his crack with Rebel Rising. “It’s an amazing opportunity,” he said. “I played for four years in Sydney with the goal of trying to do something in the game and, funnily enough, it’s been since my two years back in Adelaide that I’ve managed that step that I couldn’t make in Sydney.”

As a trailblazer from a neighbouring state, the lock-forward is aware there is more to his experience this week than the 80 minutes on Friday. “I’m trying to absorb as much as I can, and if I can feed any of that back into the Adelaide community, whether that be with my club side, or with the Falcons. I’d love to get as much game time as possible, to get the exposure and experience, but ultimately I want to try and pave a pathway for juniors in South Australia so that they know that there are opportunities to play top-level rugby if you’re from Adelaide,” he said.

“I think coming back to Adelaide and playing rugby is important. Especially for the guys that are born and bred in Adelaide to come back and give something to the competition. It creates a vibe and spreads the word about the game a little more.”

The addition of the RaboDirect Rebels to the Super Rugby competition has galvanised support amongst South Australian rugby fans, something Brown is happy to be a part of. “Just in my club alone, I know there are a number of blokes that have signed up for memberships to the Rebels, just because of that relationship and proximity. As the relationship strengthens I’m sure those numbers will increase tenfold,” he said.

“There is a strong, small rugby community in Adelaide and we’ve never been able to leverage into any of the elite level programmes. Now the Rebels have opened up a door for us and that’s a great opportunity for South Australia. We can now work with a Super Rugby franchise and create more possibilities in the future.”