The ARU will be hit with a Force

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

SYD­NEY: The Aus­tralian Rugby Union an­nounced its in­ten­tion to axe the Perth­based West­ern Force side from Su­per Rugby yes­ter­day but the pro­tracted saga may not be over yet with Rugby West­ern Aus­tralia pon­der­ing a le­gal chal­lenge to the de­ci­sion.

The ARU said in April that they would cut ei­ther the Force or the Mel­bourne Rebels from Su­per Rugby next sea­son as the com­pe­ti­tion con­tracted from 18 to 15 teams be­cause of fall­ing rev­enues and fan in­ter­est.

“Our de­ci­sion to exit the West­ern Force has been guided pri­mar­ily by fi­nan­cial out­comes,” ARU chair­man Cameron Clyne said in a state­ment.

“This is a sad day for rugby, es­pe­cially for West­ern Force fans. We ac­cept that there will be anger and re­sent­ment over this de­ci­sion and we sym­pa­thise with those fans. We sin­cerely hope that they are not lost to the game for­ever.”

Rug­byWA re­sponded with a state­ment say­ing it would pur­sue “ev­ery pos­si­ble means”, in­clud­ing le­gal ac­tion, to en­sure the Force re­mained in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Bil­lion­aire min­ing mag­nate An­drew For­rest warned the ARU ear­lier this week that he would be first in line to fight the em­bat­tled gov­ern­ing body if it cut Force.

With For­rest throw­ing his weight be­hind the team, the bat­tle over the fu­ture of the Force could still be dragged out in a long le­gal bat­tle the cash­strapped ARU can ill af­ford.

The Force went to ar­bi­tra­tion with the ARU last week ar­gu­ing the al­liance agree­ment they signed when they were bailed out by the ARU last year guar­an­teed them Su­per Rugby un­til the end of the cur­rent broad­cast­ing deal in 2020.

The ARU con­tended that the con­trac­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion for next year ef­fec­tively meant there was a new broad­cast agree­ment in place for 2018.

Gov­ern­ing body San­zaar ear­lier this year agreed to re­move three teams from the com­pe­ti­tion.

The ARU quickly ruled out cut­ting the Waratahs, Brumbies and Reds, leav­ing a choice be­tween the Force and Rebels.

Rebels owner An­drew Cox con­firmed last week that he had trans­ferred own­er­ship to state gov­ern­ing body Vic­to­rian Rugby Union (VRU), declar­ing the move had “se­cured” the team’s fu­ture.

The Force were an ex­pan­sion team aimed at spread­ing the ge­o­graphic im­print of rugby to Aus­tralia’s west coast when they joined the com­pe­ti­tion in 2006. LEN­NON GREG­GAIN dot­ted down twice and Kai Evans scored 20 points as Wales de­liv­ered the goods to make up for last year’s loss to the Baby Boks.

The 70-minute en­counter at the Marköt­ter fields at Paul Roos Gym­na­sium in Stel­len­bosch yes­ter­day on day one of the SA Un­der-19 In­ter­na­tional Series went to the wire but Wales had a 16-point lead head­ing into the fi­nal few min­utes and fully de­served what will be a morale-boost­ing win ahead of their next match against Eng­land at Paarl Gym­na­sium on Tues­day.

The Boks will be lick­ing their wounds af­ter a dis­jointed per­for­mance and will want to set the record straight when they next play a French out­fit that lost to Eng­land in the ear­lier game.

The South Africans lacked

Cameron Clyne

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