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Western Force cut from Super Rugby; Australian chief resigns

12 August, 2017, 00:36 | Author: Greg Wolfe
  • Western Force players celebrate a try during the round 17 Super Rugby match against the NSW Waratahs at nib Stadium in Perth

Former Western Force skipper Nathan Sharpe says the decision to axe the Perth club from the Super Rugby competition is the "biggest mistake" the Australian Rugby Union could have made.

ARU chairman Cameron Clyne said in a statement Friday the ARU "resolved to discontinue the Western Force Super Rugby license. after several weeks of consultation with rugby bodies and stakeholders".

Two South African sides, the Central Cheetahs and the Southern Kings, have already been cut from future Super Rugby competitions under a South African rugby commitment to drop their representation to four teams.

The Rebels were the other Australian team on the chopping block, but they now appear safe despite winning only one Super Rugby game this season. "We accept that there will be anger and resentment over this decision and we sympathize with those fans".

On a dramatic day, ARU boss Bill Pulver announced he would stand down as soon as a replacement could be found.

RugbyWA will also consider mounting legal action relating to the circumstances which led it to enter into the "Alliance" agreement a year ago with the ARU.

Billionaire Andrew Forrest, who on Friday described the ARU's decision as "retrograde" and "illogical", has reaffirmed his pledge to do everything within his powers to save the Force. We sincerely hope that they are not lost to the game forever.

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The Force were an expansion team aimed at spreading the geographic imprint of rugby to the Australia's west coast when they joined the competition in 2006.

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

Against a background of widespread dissatisfaction with the 18-team format, governing body SANZAAR earlier this year agreed to remove three teams from the competition.

"Whilst the board of RugbyWA is extremely disappointed with the ARU's stated position, with the support of the Rugby community and numerous WA business identities including Mr Andrew Forrest we will continue the fight to retain the Force in Western Australia", the Force said in a statement.

"We're dealing with the process of cutting a Super Rugby team and that's been a harrowing process", he told a news conference.

"Our immediate concern is to support the individuals at the Western Force through these hard circumstances and we will deploy various ARU management staff to Western Australia to provide assistance to all players and staff". "Sport is a hard business, and we have had a hard year, and this means it is the right time for me to step down and create renewal".

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