Pulver exits as axe falls on Force
RUGBY supremo Bill Pulver has quit amid the dramatic Super Rugby firestorm which yesterday torched the Western Force and stirred angry condemnation.
Force hooker Heath Tessman branded the Australian Rugby Union’s decision makers cowards in an emotional tweet.
Foundation skipper Nathan Sharpe was livid when branding the call a disgrace and urging the decks be cleared at the ARU.
“The biggest mistake the ARU could have made – time to clear the decks and start fresh,” Sharpe tweeted.
He had less than an hour to wait because Pulver said he would be exiting from this “harrowing period” to let rugby renew “with a fresh set of eyes” after five years as ARU chief executive.
“I have enormous sympathy for the people in the west, some great people, but this is the right decision for Australian rugby,” Pulver said.
“Sport is a difficult business and we have had a difficult year. This means it is the right time for me to step down and create renewal.”
Rugby WA boss Mark Sinderberry said the club would continue to fight and Supreme Court action looms but it only delays the gallows.
The Melbourne Rebels can breathe easy with their place secure in next year’s revamped 15club Super Rugby competition.
Fighting to make a mark as the 22nd most important footy club in Melbourne minds behind the footprint of AFL, soccer and rugby league’s Storm is what the ARU have committed to.
“Disgraceful. So much good was built in the West. Pathways beginning to pay dividends & now the financial security,” Sharpe tweeted of the west being cut adrift.
The Rebels’ signing of champion halfback Will Genia, top Wallabies lock Adam Coleman and a bunch of his Force cohorts will likely be the next stage of a saga which has strangled rugby in this country.
The brutal reality is the ARU would have gone broke supporting five Super Rugby clubs and the cut to four was necessary and always would be painful.
The process has been a disaster but ARU chairman Cameron Clyne was clear with the call on the Force rather than the Rebels and the cut to four clubs was “guided primarily by finances”.
“People have to confront the reality of the ( revenue and crowd hits) with the performance decline from having three, four and then five Australian Super Rugby teams,” Clyne said.
Following yesterday’s arbitration decision in favour of the ARU, Rugby Union Players Association boss Ross Xenos was scathing of the governing body.
And billionaire Force backer Andrew Forrest slated the decision as ludicrous when urging for a right of appeal.