According to rugby folklore, it was back in 1823 that young William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it.
And just like that enterprising young Rugby School student, the eastern states media is now picking up your columnist’s Super Rugby prophecies and running with them.
Regular readers will recall that last week, your columnist was the lone voice in highlighting the subtle clue that Bill Pulver threw out about how the Super Rugby saga might be resolved when the ARU chief executive told Fairfax Media: “I am in multiple discussions at the moment, which I am not at liberty to discuss.”
We went further by disclosing that the discussions Bill was not at liberty to discuss in public were with the private owner of the Melbourne Rebels, businessman Andrew Cox, to buy back the Rebels licence.
And while Sydney’s influential Daily Telegraph has advocated from the very outset of this sordid saga that the Force, and not the Rebels, were in line for the Super Rugby axe, it seems they too are now seeing a different picture emerging.
Consider this published yesterday in The Daily Telegraph’s Payto & Panda column under the headline which screamed: NERVOUS WORDS FOR REBELS
“MELBOURNE types weren’t focused on the part of Pulver’s media interview this week where he said he’d resign.
They were more nervous about this line regarding cutting a Super Rugby team: “I am in multiple discussions at the moment which I am not at liberty to discuss.”
It has poured fuel on rumours that the ARU are still in talks with Rebels owner Andrew Cox. Cox, you’ll recall, declared last month he wouldn’t sell the club.”
To paraphrase former Kiwi commentator Murray Mexted, what we are seeing here is another shift in the psychic energy of this game.
For those of you who missed last week’s instalment, your columnist also suggested that Cox might be motivated to conclude those discussions with the ARU ahead of the arbitration hearing set for the week starting July 31 to avoid losing negotiating leverage when – as is hoped and expected in equal measure – the ARU-Force alliance agreement is shown to safeguard the Force’s participation in Super Rugby until 2020.
The clock is ticking. Stay tuned.