Force support ARU board as court process continues

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Western Force general manager Mark Sinderberry has ruled out the possibility of WA being involved in any movement against the ARU board at this month’s EGM.

Speaking at the Force’s members forum on Wednesday night, Sinderberry dismissed the idea that the ARU board would be under threat in a June 20 EGM, going so far as to praise the board for its decision-making in the Super Rugby process.

The VRU and RUPA voted for the meeting, with the aim of gleaning more understanding around the process that is being used to reduce Australia's Super Rugby teams from five to four, and neither of them have indicated any potential spill at the meeting.

Referring to the initial April 10 ARU announcement that one of the Force or Rebels would be axed within 48-72 hours, Sinderberry suggested that process was only undergone because of the board.

“We’re not convinced that rolling the ARU board actually achieves anything,” he said.

“I think when you look at it, in some ways the board has actually been through a quite difficult (time) but actually made some key decisions at some key times that actually insisted that there was some period of consultation.

“There was a critical time there where the board stepped up and actually ensured there was a process.”

“I’m not sure what it’s going to achieve.

“We’ve got three scenarios (the Force being axed, the Rebels selling their licence and five teams remaining) - getting rid of the board doesn’t change those three scenarios.

“As much as, yes, it’s easy to get emotional and flustered and say the board’s responsible I actually think in the critical moment the board acted very well and demonstrated why you have a board there.

The Western Force and the ARU are set to be in court next week, after a directions hearing was reportedly postponed this week over the Force’s claim that they are guaranteed a spot in Super Rugby until 2020.

RugbyWA is pushing for the matter to be progressed through the courts, while the ARU has requested the matter goes to arbitration.

“There was some movement with a proposed court case that the Australian Rugby Union were proposing, or their lawyers proposing, it gets moved to an arbitration rather than a straight court hearing,” Sinderberry said on Wednesday night.

“That will get heard in the next couple of days, early next week and...because of a range of issues around player contracting etc that needs to be heard as soon as possible.”

Sinderberry said RugbyWA was pushing for a court proceeding because it would likely be completed quicker than arbitration.

“If it goes to arbitration, we still have the same rights, the value of the contract is the same, all those sorts of things,” he said.

“We just think that the speed the court case would be (quicker).”