What a Western farce

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

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.

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