ARU EGM unlikely to provide Super Rugby, or Pulver, flashpoint

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Tuesday’s ARU emergency meeting might have at one point loomed as a flash point for Australian rugby, but as the day nears, it seems that possibility is all but over.

Even after ARU CEO Bill Pulver flagged his willingness to resign should the situation call for that on Tuesday, it appears little will have changed in the dragging Super Rugby saga after the gathering is over.

Pulver’s current contract runs out in February, but that seems like the latest that he would remain as CEO, with the conclusion of the Super Rugby saga more than likely set to bring the end of his tenure.

The recent departure of his second-in-charge Rob Clarke, with no clear resolution to the Super Rugby saga forthcoming, also makes any resignation difficult with no obvious caretaker in line to clean up the Australian rugby mess.

There are three resolutions to be heard at the meeting revolve around Super Rugby - whether it is in Australia’s best interests to have five teams until 2020, whether the ARU should reconsider its move to reduce teams and whether there should be moves to create a Super Rugby commission.

Any resolution needs 75 per cent of the vote to go through, with the most likely tangible outcome from the meeting another date to set up a Super Rugby commission,

Again, though, that seems a foregone conclusion, with chairman Cameron Clyne saying last month that Australia’s Super Rugby teams had supported the contraction behind closed doors.

Once teams were teams in the line of fire, things became complicated.

“My suspicion is that they felt that we've talked that but we would never actually go down that path.

“Obviously there was indication before our announcement on the 10th of April that, ‘Yes, look we do make that decision, (we will) go quickly'.

“I think when it became a reality, then obviously their view changed.

“They're entitled to change that view but obviously that puts a lot of delay in the process.”

Though there have been rumours of a potential challenge to ARU chairman Cameron Clyne, it won’t be from either parties who called the EGM, with a vote of no confidence not featuring among the resolutions.

A third party could call for that in other business but that would still need a majority of voting members on board for it to pass.

With Queensland and New South Wales holding six of the 15 votes on the board, given that they stand to gain plenty from cutting a team - winning half the vote would be near impossible.

Even Western Force general manager Mark Sinderberry voiced his support for the board at a recent members’ forum.

The ARU is set to head into mediation with the Rebels as the club looks to recoup damages to its brand over the saga, while the governing body will enter arbitration with the Western Force on July 31.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was asked about Bill Pulver’s tenure in Brisbane on Monday, but said it wasn’t a debate he felt he should enter.

“I’ll have my say within the organisation to try and do what’s best but I know my place,” he said.

“He’s the boss of rugby here and I’m the coach of the team - he’s doing the best he can.

“When you’re loyal, you don’t even think about that stuff.”