MELBOURNE The Melbourne Rebels have been told not to expect a decision on their Super Rugby future for six to eight weeks, coach Tony McGahan said on Friday.
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced a month ago that either the Rebels or Perth-based Western Force would be cut at the end of the season as the competition shrinks from 18 teams to 15 next year.
Two teams from South Africa are also to be culled.
The ARU had said it would be a matter of days before they confirmed which team would go but threats of legal action from both sides have delayed the announcement.
Players on both teams have competed under a cloud throughout the season, and McGahan said there would be no immediate relief from the uncertainty.
"We've been told it could be another six to eight weeks before a decision is made," McGahan told reporters ahead of Saturday's home match against the Queensland Reds.
"So, as you can imagine, that puts a lot of unnecessary stress on everyone in the organisation.
"It's probably in the last couple of weeks where we can really feel it as it starts to affect people's livelihoods and where they want to be, with certain (contractual) windows closing both here and also overseas."
McGahan called on Rebels supporters to turn up to Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Saturday but agreed his team had failed to reward the faithful, managing only a single win from nine games to sit last in the Australian conference.
"We've got to give them something as well... That's really important to us and we didn't do that justice last week," he said, referring to the 47-10 home loss to the Johannesburg-based Lions.
"To ask people to keep coming out and supporting us, we really need to make sure we play our part."
The Force have also struggled, with only one more win than the Rebels, and they face a stiff test against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires without injured veteran flanker Matt Hodgson and Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Force lock Adam Coleman said he hoped his team could ensure their survival by stringing together some wins.
"There's a lot going on here with the future of the club," Coleman said.
"A lot of families are being affected. It's hit the boys pretty hard.
"My goal is to play good footy for the club to ensure the future of the Force."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O'Brien)