Well readers, back on April 28, your columnist declared the Force would survive the Super Rugby cull to fight another day. Given the events of recent weeks, that prediction started looking as reliable as one of the Hulkster’s tips on the last at Dapto.
But your columnist is now prepared to make an even bolder call. And that is the Force could be back in Super Rugby by the end of the week.
- Twiggy has provided the ARU with the solution:
Billionaire Andrew Forrest’s offer to back Australian rugby on the proviso that the national footprint is maintained is a well-timed master stroke. And it should be the basis upon which a settlement is negotiated with the ARU this week which enables all five Australian teams to remain in Super Rugby. There is nothing idle about Twiggy’s threat to start a breakaway competition if the ARU proceeds with its plan to axe the Force. There is a deal to be done. And Twiggy is the man to clinch the deal.
- The rally:
Force supporters should not under-estimate how powerful Sunday’s rally was. It showed the rugby world how passionate West Australians are about their rugby, and their Super Rugby team. And right now, passion is exactly what Australian rugby needs. Like the Subiaco Oval rally of 2004, Sunday hit the target.
- The threat of litigation from the WA Government:
As flagged in this column back on August 11, Premier Mark McGowan has hurled another well-timed grenade with the threat of legal action to claw back from the ARU some of the $100 million-plus in State funding for the likes of the nib Stadium upgrade, which was invested on the expectation the Force would remain in Super Rugby. The last thing the ARU needs right now is more litigation. That legal threat will of course disappear if the ARU reverses its decision to axe the Force.
- Australian rugby desperately needs a circuit-breaker:
The bloodletting in Australian rugby has seen the code go through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history. Before considering the result of Saturday night’s Test in Sydney, spare a thought for the crowd – reportedly the lowest on record in the professional Bledisloe Cup era. Reinstating the Force won’t be a panacea to all of Australia’s rugby woes, but it will provide the circuit-breaker which is so desperately needed to start turning things around.
- Could Qantas become another financial consideration for the ARU?
It will not be lost on the bean-counters at the ARU that Perth is a very important strategic market right now for Qantas, which recently launched its Perth-London direct flights. Qantas is of course the principal sponsor of the Wallabies. You’d have to wonder whether the “financial considerations” the ARU keeps referring to in its Super Rugby spread sheet include the potential threat of backlash against its major sponsor by West Australian travellers.
- The NSW Supreme Court Appeal can be averted:
A negotiated settlement would allow RugbyWA to drop its appeal against the arbitration decision, which is scheduled to go before the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday. That would be a great outcome because it would save money and put an end to all the animosity. What’s more, RugbyWA actually goes into that appeal in a strong position. It has been suggested by those in the know that WA effectively lost the arbitration decision 49/51. It was that close. A fresh set of judicial eyes could easily decide in RugbyWA’s favour by 51/49. In which case the decision to axe the Force would be overturned anyway.
So readers, that’s why a deal could be done this week to put the Force back where they belong – in the Super Rugby competition.
Things are moving fast. So stay tuned….