We’ve had a few songs so far in this series of musings about the drawn-out Australian Super Rugby saga. We’ve had The Times They Are A-Changin’ from Bob Dylan and Power and the Passion from Muzz McLean look-alike Peter Garrett and his band Midnight Oil.
Here’s another one to throw into the mix – Silence is Golden by The Four Seasons. That tune is relevant because the silence from the ARU over the Australian Super Rugby saga is golden for the Western Force.
From where I’m seeing things, the fact the ARU hasn’t responded to the legal argument raised by the Force to prevent the Perth franchise from being cut from Super Rugby suggests the ARU still doesn’t have an independent legal response.
The Force’s legal case, you might recall, was built around the terms of the ARU-Force alliance agreement entered into last year when the ARU took effective control of the Force.
And in the absence of any clear-cut independent legal advice, it follows that the ARU chief Bill Pulver is in no position to press ahead and cull the Force ahead of the fast-approaching SANZAAR meeting in Japan on May 10.
While he contemplates things from the pointy end of the plane on that trip to Japan, Pulver might well ponder what an absolute shocker of a look it would be for the ARU to axe the Force, only to see the Rebels collapse a season or two down the track.
Pulver would have to countenance that possibility as being very real for at least three reasons – (1) the Rebels are losing money with no obvious turnaround in sight; (2) they still don’t have a naming rights sponsor and (3) the financial predicament for private Kiwi owner Andrew Cox will get even more dire as the financial subsidies he is paid from the ARU to run the Rebels are reduced over time. Cox is not foolish enough to throw good money after bad. And like Kenny Rogers told us, you’ve got to know when to fold em.
As we boldly predicted in the last column in this series, the Force will still be upright and fighting in the Super Rugby competition next season (subject, that is, to having enough un-injured players) because the ARU’s plan to axe the Perth franchise will be placed in the too-hard basket. And given there are so many players, families, livelihoods and contractual discussions in limbo, the SANZAAR delegates should arrive at that conclusion on May 10, rather than taking the cop-out option of kicking the can down the road to the next scheduled SANZAAR meeting.
Finally, as he gazes out the window on the long flight to Japan, Mr Pulver might have a light bulb moment: If something in Australian rugby is indeed broken and in need of repair, then axing the Force sure won’t fix it…
Wouldn’t that be good.