Western Force axed from Super Rugby, Aussie boss quits

Lawrence Cooper
August 12, 2017

Australian rugby faced renewed upheaval Friday when chief executive Bill Pulver resigned only hours after the organization chose to cut the Perth-based Western Force from Super Rugby for the 2018 season.

The ARU had been deciding whether to remove either the Melbourne Rebels or Force but, after a two-week arbitration with RugbyWA, the ARU said they had chose to "discontinue the Western Force Super Rugby license".

"We accept that there will be anger and resentment over this decision and we sympathise with those fans".

"Today's is the darkest day in the history of Australian rugby with the custodian of the game confirming their desire to end the tenure of the Western Force and abandoning the game's national footprint", RUPA chief executive Ross Xenos said in a statement.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver, who had already confirmed he would not seek reappointment when his contract expired next year, said he would now be leaving as soon as a replacement could be found.

They will also consider launching legal action relating to the circumstances which led it to enter into the Alliance Agreement with the ARU previous year. We sincerely hope that they are not lost to the game forever.

Billionaire businessman Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has said he would back the Force in a legal battle, and came out swinging on Friday afternoon.

Newcastle United have signed Kenedy
Benitez admitted his frustration at the lack of transfer activity so far this summer on Tyneside. Asked about walking away, Benitez added: "No, I made a decision to stay".

Perth-based Western Force and the Melbourne Rebels, traditionally the weakest of the Australian teams, had both been warned they could face the axe.

The two traditional state powers - the Queensland Reds and the NSW Waratahs - were considered safe, as were the A.C.T. Brumbies, who are the most successful Aussie team, having won the Super Rugby competition twice.

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.

The Force responded to the news on Friday afternoon, declaring they would explore whatever means possible to remain Super Rugby.

As we have reinforced throughout this process, there are commercial realities which are linked to declining on-field performance across our Super Rugby teams which has put Australian Rugby in a position where it can no longer sustain five teams.

"'We're just saying we need to reallocate some of the pie to those things".

"Sports is a hard business and we have had a hard year".

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