The ARU has broken its silence around the future of Super Rugby, moving to respond to reports that the Force would be the team to be cut under any changes.
Force general manager Mark Sinderberry and the franchise were quick to shut down those reports late on Monday night, saying they had not been given any news on their future and were of the understanding that no call had been made.
The ARU issued a statement on Tuesday morning saying no call had been made on the future of the Super Rugby format or how many Australian teams would be involved, or indeed which team would be cut if a 15-team competition were agreed upon.
“The ARU wishes to clarify its current position in the SANZAAR review of the Super Rugby competition,” it read..
“As announced by SANZAAR following the SANZAAR Board meeting in London earlier this month, the four member nations have undertaken a period of stakeholder consultation to work towards an agreed outcome on the competition format for the 2018 season.
“This stakeholder consultation, which has included consultation with broadcast partners in each territory, is ongoing. At this point, there has been no determination on the future competition format or the teams involved in the competition.
“We also wish to confirm for the public record that no decision has been taken on the removal of one of Australia’s Super Rugby teams.
“ARU, as a joint venture partner of SANZAAR, is working towards a final resolution in the shortest timeframe possible and will inform Rugby fans as soon as an outcome is reached.”
The statement is the most definitive the governing body has been since speculation Super Rugby’s future, with SANZAAR asking unions to stay tight-lipped about any decisions.
The ARU is believed to have met with FOX SPORTS since the London meeting to discuss the consensus and the local broadcaster preferences.
It is believed that any change agreed to in London still hinges heavily on South Africa, who would have to remove two teams for Australia to have to drop one.
South Africa's general assembly is set to meet in April 6, while the ARU board is going to meet next week, possibly as early as Monday.
SANZAAR's next exco meeting is in May but it is hoped the Super Rugby debate will be well and truly over by then.
That decision is a complicated one, with the South African government influential in the development of the Kings, who represent a high proportion of the country’s black population, but have not produced on-field success since joining Super Rugby.
It has now been nearly three weeks since that London meeting occurred, after which SANZAAR indicated an announcement would arrive in the ‘coming days’.