ARU and RugbyWA arbitration to take saga into August

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia's Super Rugby limbo seems likely to stretch on into August, as the ARU and RugbyWA head to arbitration.

RugbyWA had lodged a legal writ against the ARU, to block the possibility that they will be axed from the Super Rugby competition in 2018.

The WA body has publicly argued that their alliance agreement with the ARU guarantees them a place in the competition until 2020, and initially pushed to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

The Force released a statement on Wednesday night saying they had agreed to arbitration 'to fast track' the dispute, a decision foreshadowed by general manager Mark Sinderberry last week.

"RugbyWA and the ARU have agreed today to fast track the resolution of the dispute currently before Supreme Court of Western Australia through arbitration," the statement read.

"The RugbyWA Board believes that to proceed to arbitration is the best way forward for not only the Road Safety Western Force, but for the betterment of the Super Rugby competition, and to expedite this process will only benefit the parties involved.

The Force are seething at the ARU after a meeting on Monday. Photo: Getty Images"The Board is particularly concerned with the lack of clear direction for players, staff and supporters and the expedited opportunity provided by a firm arbitration date will be in everyone’s interest."

Arbitration is locked in for the week commencing July 31, making a resolution to the saga very unlikely before then, with the potential for WA to file an injunction against any ARU decision to cut the Force from Super Rugby.

Wallabies winger Dane Haylett-Petty has been one of the most vocal defenders of the Force and in a Test camp with four Force players and three WA natives - their highest count ever - he said he won’t stop defending its value.

“The hard thing at the moment is there's no real end in sight, no one knows when it's going to end,” he said.

“The only thing we can really deal is perform on the field to try and prove a point.

“I think being vocal (is important), I'm a big believer in the WA pathway - there's so many talented kids that people haven't even seen yet.

“More and more the first time there's three in the squad that are WA produced.

“That's why I believe in the Western Force."

Richard Hardwick is one of the new WA faces in the squad. Photo: WalmsleyHaylett-Petty said Wallabies camp had provided a sense of relief from the ongoing Super Rugby saga.

“I think so. Cheik always tries to create a great environment here, one where you can just try and come and perform and be the best player you can be, so I'm excited about that.

"I'm hoping to pull on that gold jersey again."

The incumbent Test winger has some extra competition on his hands this season and has played just one match in the past seven weeks after a groin injury, a turn of events that made him feel fortunate to even be in the June squad.

Henry Speight has been arguably the form winger in that time, while Rebels duo Sefa Naivalu and Marika Koroibete have been deprived of touches in a difficult season but have shown glimpses of promise.

That outing, against the Hurricanes, has given him a timely dose of confidence, as he looks to build on a breakout 2016 Test season.

“I'm a lot more settled this year - I felt like I had  lot of growth throughout the season from where I started to where I finished, so hopefully I can start at that higher level and grow again.

“It was massive (to play last weekend),” he said.

“One for the confidence and I suppose for the match fitness as well. I came out of that got through 70 minutes and feeling good.”

The Wallabies take on Fiji this Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS. Buy tickets here.