Pul­ver ex­its as axe falls on Force

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JIM TUCKER

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.

ARU boss Bill Pul­ver

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