Fight not over in Force's eyes

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

We’re not done yet.

That’s the message from the Western Force after the ARU opted to axe them from Super Rugby in 2018, with billionaire backer Andrew Forrest describing the move as ‘idiotic at its kindest’, taking a swipe at the national body and the Rebels along the way.

“This could be a try against us but it’s not the end of the game,” Forrest said.

“The decision to cut the Western Force was simply because we’re a little out of sight, out of mind.

“The chairman of ARU ran the NAB which is based in Melbourne. Greg Hunt a very good Minister for Sport, is based in Melbourne, that would be difficult.

“For Cameron Clyne and the ARU it was an easy political decision but was it the right decision for the sport? Absolutely not - a retrograde illogical decision and one which we will challenge until our last option is available.”

The mining mogul, who has jumped in to support for the Force in the past month, is already investigating injunction options, pledging his monetary backing for any court action.

As they flagged before this week’s arbitration, the Perth franchise will be looking for a route to appeal the decision in the NSW Supreme Court.

Force general manager Mark Sinderberry said the latest development had only steeled their determination to keep fighting.

“Yeah it is (a low point) but it also probably strengthens the resolve that says, ‘Okay, this is the first stage’,” he said.

“We know we’ve got a lot of support behind us and we’ve got the ability to fight on.”

Sinderberry pointed to the resignation of three key ARU figures as a questionable development in the saga, with CEO Bill Pulver set to follow COO Rob Clarke and CFO Todd Day out the door, though the latter said the Super Rugby decision was not the main motivation for leaving.

Forrest said he felt the decision was devoid of logic.

“Anytime I spoke to the chairman of the ARU or others involved in the process, they could not fault the logic that supporting the Western Force is the only possible logical decision,” he said.

ARU Chairman Cameron Clyne said earlier on Friday that Forrest’s support had come too late, but the mining mogul said that should be irrelevant.

“I have informed the ARU at chairman’s level and I’ve informed the Minister for Sport that I would stand behind the sport financially, that I would guarantee the ARU no loss,” he said.

“Still in the light of that unequivocal support for this great state and our great sport, they’ve attempted to cut the Western Force.”

Clyne confirmed on Friday that player contracts will be honoured, but Sinderberry said there was no need for players to rush to try and agree to a new contract.

“To the credit of the Australian Rugby Union, they’ve made it very clear that they’re going to honour all of those player contracts but I think the activity will be very rapid and there’s no need for any immediate decisions by the players and they’re aware of that,” he said.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, not the ARU or any of its affiliated unions or teams.