South Africa-born Dave Wessels confirmed on Friday that he will be stepping down from his role as Melbourne Rebels head coach.
The decision was shared in a meeting with Club Chairman Paul Docherty and CEO Baden Stephenson, with Wessels then announcing it to the playing squad shortly after.
Over a three-year period, between 2018 and the end of the 15-team Super Rugby competition in 2020, Wessels led the Rebels to a 63% win rate in the Australian Conference.
There were also memorable wins over the Highlanders (twice), the Lions and a record-breaking win over the Sharks at AAMI Park. The Rebels finished second in the Australian conference in 2018, 2019 and 2020 (competition suspended due to COVID).
As head coach, Wessels also broke the club record for the most number of wins in a season (2018/2019), the most consecutive wins in a season (2018/2019), and the most points in a season (2018).
Wessels’ decision to step down will mean that he will not continue coaching the Melbourne Rebels for the Trans-Tasman portion of Super Rugby season, but will spend the remainder of his contract working closely with CEO Baden Stephenson in a transitional role across all elements of the rugby program.
Wessels commented on his decision, ‘Over the past few weeks, I’ve reflected a lot and I feel the time is right to pass the baton to someone else. Living in Melbourne and coaching the Melbourne Rebels has been a wonderful experience. I’ve learnt an incredible amount, built some really strong friendships and I feel confident that I am leaving the club in a really good place.
‘When I was first appointed interim head coach at the Western Force I had the final three games of the 2016 season to start leading and preparing the club for the future. It gave me the opportunity to gain some valuable experience and test myself without the full responsibility of the job. I would like to give someone else that same opportunity; to test themselves and grow for the next phase in the club’s journey.’
A message from Dave Wessels for our members, partners and supporters pic.twitter.com/EIEQJbpt4T
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) April 30, 2021