Party Time in Melbourne in 2012

If the Melbourne Rebels couldn't handle Danny Ciprirani then how on earth will they cope with the antics of fellow wild-children James O'Connor and Kutley Beale?

Danny Cipriani was a known quantity when he signed with the Rebels. He'd already been booted out of two clubs and the English Rugby team for his off-field behaviour. Clearly the Rebels were determined to prove that their name wasn't just a clever marketing ploy, and after a couple of well rehearsed events Ciprirani was sent to the training paddock to renegotiate a contract something along the lines of the ten commandments. He'll be back bigger and better and drunker in 2012, and with Lara Bingle in tow to add some high-class glamour and a celebrity bust up to keep the tabloids happy.

James O'Connor meanwhile (a self-confessed man more brand than human) was also making himself unpopular with the new-age Western Force. Back in the good old days (about three years ago), the Force was a haven for Rugby misfits. Scott Fava beat up quokkas and not to be outdone Matt Henjak beat up his teammates. Cameron Sheppard preferred to do his drinking in his car. But once both Fava and Henjak were purged and Sheppard realised he had nowhere else to go, it was left to only O'Connor to wave the flag for drunken fun and games.

With few local opportunities he looked to overseas to engage in the sort of backpacking antics his fellow twenty-nothings do all the time on Contiki tours. Food fights and brawls with his mates might be OK at Oktoberfest but clearly the Force and the Wallabies do-gooders thought otherwise. With nowhere left to turn, O'Connor signed for the Force on the condition that best drinking bud and punching bag Kurtley Beale went with him.

It was an easy choice for Beale. Cleared by the courts of everything fun he'd ever attempted in Sydney he realised that only Melbourne could give him the sort of notoriety he craved. With Cipriani laying the foundations and O'Connor ready to plumb new depths, Beale signed on the bottom line.

The Rebels may not win a game in 2012 but they'll get more than their fair share of headlines. For a new team looking for a unique place in the annals of Australian Rugby such publicity will be gold.

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