The Super Rugby Saga: The Fleetwood Mac Theory

What does Fleetwood Mac have in common with the Australian Super Rugby saga?
The answer is Rumours. Fleetwood Mac named an album after them. And in the absence of any definitive developments, it is the latest Super Rugby rumours your columnist has been forced to analyse instead.
We pick up the story a couple of Fridays back, when the scheduled mediation talks we flagged in this column between the Rebels and the ARU curiously morphed into “ongoing discussions” between the pair.
Then there were suggestions – published by both Wayne Smith in The Australian and The Roar’s Brett McKay – that the ARU might have been planning something meaningful to say last Friday, when the Force played the Rebels in Perth. One theory was that a joint Super Rugby announcement was being contemplated to reveal which two South African teams would be cut and which Australian team would follow.
Such a joint announcement could only have transpired if the ARU had quietly done a deal with the Rebels private owner Andrew Cox. Indeed, there were mutterings that such a deal was close. However, when nothing was announced on Friday (in Australia at least), that gave rise to talk that the ARU-Cox negotiations had been scuppered by some rear guard action from Melbourne, possibly involving the Victorian State Government. The theory was that while Mr Cox and his minority partners might well be motivated to cut their losses by selling his Rebels franchise back to the ARU, the Victorian Government was understandably reluctant to sit back and watch Melbourne lose one of its national sporting teams. Of course fighting words are cheap – and any intervention by the Victorian Government in this saga will come at a cost.
Anyway, with the South Africans having already decided on Friday that the Kings and the Cheetahs would be the teams sacrificed to meet their side of SANZAAR’s Super 15 directive, that leaves the first week of August as the next known date in the Australian Super Rugby saga.
That is when the Force and the ARU are due to commence their arbitration proceedings to resolve whether their alliance agreement safeguards the Force for the remaining three years of the current Super Rugby broadcasting deal.
But alas, rumours began circulating last week of yet another date. The chatter is that the ARU could have something to say on July 16, which is this Sunday. When you think about it, if the ARU was going to say anything meaningful about the Super Rugby saga, it would make sense to wait until the Force and Rebels had played their last games of Super Rugby for 2017.
Of course, like the first song on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album, that could all just be Second Hand News.
Stay tuned. And Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.