Well readers, tomorrow looms as another big day in the Super Rugby saga when the Force fightback begins in the Supreme Court.
But before heading back to the heartland of community rugby this afternoon for day two of the club semi-finals, your columnist thought it was worth trying to clarify a couple of issues which the crowd at The Foreshore yesterday couldn’t make any sense of.
So here’s a couple of questions for the eight members of the ARU Board (pictured below) who on Friday decided to axe the Force from Super Rugby. Of course, there were nine members on the ARU Board before Geoff Stooke, who was sidelined by his fellow Board members, quit in disgust and claimed his former board colleagues had presided over a “totally corrupt process.”
Billionaire Andrew Forrest has revealed he rang ARU chairman Cameron Clyne personally last week to confirm he would stand behind the Force financially, thus ensuring the Force would be sustainable as a Super Rugby team without the need for any further financial assistance from the ARU. Given that revelation, how could it be possible for the ARU to base its case for axing the Force on financial reasons?
With reference to Question 1 above, on what possible basis or criteria did the ARU deem that the Rebels stacked up financially ahead of the Force? As it stands, the Rebels are incurring significant operating losses, they have no sponsors and they are now owned by an organisation (the Victorian Rugby Union1) which has no financial capacity to run a Super Rugby team. Where is the financial plan from the Rebels upon which the ARU deemed them to be financially superior to a team backed by one of Australia’s richest men?
Given that the ARU based its decision to axe the Force on financial grounds, can the ARU confirm no further financial funding will be provided to the Rebels throughout the Super Rugby competition?
The ARU claimed last week it was kept completely in the dark when the Rebels private owner Andrew Cox transferred ownership of the team to the VRU for $1. However, Wayne Smith reported in The Weekend Australian that “it was now becoming clear that the ARU actively worked to bring it about.” If that is true, then the ARU stands accused of actively working to ensure the Rebels were safe from the ARU axe, at the expense of the Force, while publically denying any knowledge. So did the ARU or its lawyers Clayton Utz have any role in the Cox-VRU deal or not
Did any member of the ARU Board or executive management team have any knowledge that SANZAAR planned to cut an Australian Super Rugby team when the alliance agreement was signed with the Force?
Andrew Forrest has called for the entire Board of the ARU to resign, a call echoed by many others including former Wallabies Jeremy Paul and Nathan Sharpe. In light of that, do the members of the ARU Board believe they have the confidence and support of the Australian rugby community?
Stay tuned for the responses….
Footnote1: For those of you wondering about the reference to the Dunsborough Dung Beetles in the headline, check out Dave Pusey’s column in The Sunday Times today.