What a Western farce
I CALL on the ARU board to resign in the wake of its illconceived decision to remove the Western Force from Super Rugby.
Chief executive Bill Pulver has announced he is stepping down and the others need to follow.
This board of Pulver, Cameron Clyne, Brett Robinson, John Eales, Elizabeth Broderick, Pip Marlow, Paul McLean and Ann Sherry has presided over the darkest period in Australian rugby. This is what their legacy will be.
Geoff Stooke resigned from the board last week in protest against the decision and effectively called the process corrupt. Nobody has rebuked that claim.
How can the Australian rugby public be expected to swallow rhetoric about change and healing when the same people responsible for the decision would be the ones remaining in charge?
We need a total clean- out and fresh faces.
There has been a lack of decency in the way the people involved with the Force and the community of Western Australia have been treated throughout this whole process — and I use the term “process” loosely.
This was only ever going to go one way. There was only ever one team that was going to be cut by the ARU, irrespective of all its talk that Melbourne Rebels were being considered for the axe.
The belief continues to grow that the ARU made its decision to cut the Force as far back as last September.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has already scrapped a $ 4 million advance to the ARU for staging the 2019 Bledisloe Cup in Perth.
His government is closely assessing the investment of more than $ 127 million of taxpayers’ money into stadium upgrades, training facility improvements and Super Rugby licence costs pledged to the ARU on the agreement the Force would be alive until at least 2020.
McGowan had written to Clyne and Pulver about his concerns before their decision, and did not even get the courtesy of a response.
Andrew Forrest, one of the wealthiest men in Australia, phoned them to offer financial backing to the Force and the ARU didn’t care to delay the ar- bitration and discuss alternative resolutions to secure the club’s future and unburden its own commitments to the franchise.
There is such a huge disconnect between the ARU and the rugby public.
Clyne couldn’t even be bothered to put on a coat and tie for the axing announcement on Friday. The perception, Cameron, is that you were disrespectfully underdressed for what was the most significant announcement in Australian rugby history.
And don’t underestimate how much mental and emotional damage the ARU has in- flicted upon the people affected by this decision. They have been strung along for months because of the board’s inability to make a decision quickly.
It should not take a tragic outcome for the ARU to understand the heart- wrenching turmoil it has caused to players and staff.
The ARU will want to hide behind the Bledisloe Cup promotions this week.
It will hope that the game can deflect attention away from its incompetence, that people will forget about the ARU. But the ARU is wrong. It has put Australian rugby in a black hole, and that darkness could be all- encompassing this Saturday.