12 August, 2017, 00:39 | Author: Laura Christensen
The Australian Rugby Union has announced its intention to drop Perth-based Western Force from Super Rugby, although a legal challenge to the decision is being considered.
The ARU said it made a decision to discontinue the Force's Super Rugby licence after weeks of consultation with rugby bodies and stakeholders, including government and commercial partners.
Super Rugby's governing body, SANZAAR, ruled earlier this year that the 2018 competition would be reduced from 18 to 15 teams by the removal of two teams from South Africa and one from Australia.
The ARU quickly ruled out cutting previous Super Rugby champion teams the New South Wales Waratahs, ACT Brumbies and Queensland Reds, leaving a choice between the Force and Rebels. "We accept that there will be anger and resentment over this decision and we sympathize with those fans".
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Every Australian team lost more than they won in 2017 and for the second-straight year no local side made the semi-finals.
"The decision to exit the Western Force from Super Rugby is not a decision to abandon the game in Western Australia".
"There will be a clear pathway for young Western Australian rugby players to reach the highest level and represent the Wallabies".
The Force went to arbitration with the ARU last week arguing the alliance agreement they signed when they were bailed out by the ARU a year ago guaranteed them Super Rugby until the end of the current broadcasting deal in 2020.
Billionaire businessman Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has said he would back the Force in a legal battle, and came out swinging on Friday afternoon.
Former Force players and fans have been out in force on social media, slamming the ARU's decision to cut the Force. The Rebels had previously been owned by businessman Andrew Cox.
The players' representative body was pushing for five Australian teams to continue in the competition.
ARU chairman Cameron Clyne admitted it was a "sad day", but insisted Australian rugby could not sustain five teams financially.
"All the contracted players will have their contracts honoured and hopefully a lot of them will actually find a new Super Rugby team".
"It's a good time for renewal and I think we need a fresh set of eyes".
"'As hard as this is, this is a significant step forward in positioning us to have a better Super Rugby structure in the period going forward".
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