And so the Rebels’ season has gone. Despite inconsistency, early season performances had marked them as a dangerous proposition at home, disposing of the Hurricanes and Brumbies before narrowly going down to the Sharks. They followed this with a thrilling win over the Force in Perth, proving they could re-produce the same form away from the cauldron known as The Stockade.
As time went on, however, it became increasingly clear that all was not well in the Rebels camp. The player with the number 10 on his back -- the most important member of the team-- was repeatedly in trouble for late night drinking escapades. Coinciding with this, Cipriani’s defense started to resemble a revolving door. Against the Highlanders, while the rest of the team busted their guts, his laughable attempts at tackling led to three tries which gifted the North Island team the game.
Clearly Cipriani has an attitude problem. There is the suspicion that he is an outright alcoholic. With the entire Rebels game plan dependent on him, he has not only let himself down, but he has let down his teammates, Rebels fans, and the coach and club who were prepared to give someone of dubious reputation a chance at redemption.
Blessed with prodigious talent, Cipriani doesn’t have the ticker for rugby. You can bet he won’t be in Melbourne next season, and it’s hard to imagine any other club signing such a liability.