ARU Chairman Cameron Clyne has hammered home the importance of financial sustainability as the critical criteria that will decide which Australian Super Rugby team will face the axe.
Appearing on FOX SPORTS' Kick and Chase tonight, Clyne left no doubt as to what the ARU board values most in deciding which of the Force and the Rebels will survive.
He highlighted the $28 million spent propping up five franchises over the past four years that should have been spent on nurturing grassroots growth and the financial predicament the game finds itself in.
"Finance is unfortunately going to have to be a very significant criteria," he said.
"We have put in $28 million that we did not plan to put in over the last four years to keep these teams afloat."We are constantly getting feedback - which I absolutely support - that we are not putting enough money into grassroots.
"If those teams are at the bottom of the ladder in two or three years - we don't want that to be the case - but have they got the financial ability to carry on sustainably?
"That's the key issue.
"It's a game we are all involved in because we love and support the game but its become a business.
"As fans drift away and sponsors drift away, we have to make sure the four teams we keep are financially sustainable.Clyne also distanced the board from the emotional support particularly seen in Perth in recent weeks.
"There is a lot of great passion and support coming out of the franchises at the moment but we have to stand back from that," he said.
"The reason we are in this situation is because that passion and support hasn't been there for some years."
There have been powerbrokers, commentators and rugby fans alike that have criticised the ARU's handling of this situation over the past 24 hours.Clyne copped the criticism sweet and said he, along with the rest of the ARU, are happy to stand accountable for the decisions made both in the past and pushing forward.
"The ARU absolutely has to be accountable and I'm very happy to take on that accountability but this accountability also falls on all of Australian rugby - this is why we are in this situation," he said.
"When you get yourself into this situation and you lose the amount of money we have been losing over that period of time, we have to make tough decisions and there are going to be consequences.
"We want a result as quickly possible and I was ambitious on that - we want to bring it to a close but both teams want an opportunity to present their case.
"This game has got to get on a much better financial footing."