Sport

Western Force axed from Super Rugby

Western Force players celebrate a try during the round 17 Super Rugby match against the NSW Waratahs at nib Stadium in Perth.
Western Force players celebrate a try during the round 17 Super Rugby match against the NSW Waratahs at nib Stadium in Perth. RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

WESTERN Force players and officials have reacted angrily to news they will be cut from the Super Rugby competition and have vowed to keep fighting the ARU in the courts.

Force hooker Heath Tessman simply wrote "cowards" on Twitter after the ARU announced it would discontinue the franchise, while WA Rugby declared it was looking to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.

"The ARU has informed Rugby WA today that it intends to remove the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition in 2018," a Rugby WA statement said.

"Rugby WA remains committed to pursuing every possible means to ensure the Western Force remains a Super Rugby team in Perth.

"Rugby WA is considering all options including bringing urgent proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW, and legal action relating to the circumstances which led it to enter into the Alliance Agreement with the ARU.

"Whilst the board of Rugby WA is extremely disappointed with the ARU's stated position, with the support of the rugby community and numerous WA business identities including Mr Andrew Forrest AO we will continue the fight to retain the Force in Western Australia."

It was 123 days ago that the ARU declared it would axe a Super Rugby side within "48-72 hours", but it was finally able to move on that promise on Friday after winning its arbitration case against WA Rugby and dissolving the Force.

"Our decision to exit the Western Force has been guided primarily by financial outcomes," the ARU said in a statement.

"As we have reinforced throughout this process, there are commercial realities which are linked to declining on-field performance across our Super Rugby teams which has put Australian Rugby in a position where it can no longer sustain five teams.

"Furthermore, the significant unbudgeted support funding that has been provided to Super Rugby teams over the past five years has greatly affected our capacity to invest in community rugby.

"This is a sad day for rugby, especially for Western Force fans. We accept that there will be anger and resentment over this decision and we sympathise with those fans. We sincerely hope that they are not lost to the game forever.

"The decision to exit the Western Force from Super Rugby is not a decision to abandon the game in Western Australia.

"Western Australia will retain an important place in Australian rugby and the ARU will continue to support youth development programs and the community game in the west. There will be a clear pathway for young Western Australian rugby players to reach the highest level and represent the Wallabies.

"Our immediate concern is to support the individuals at the Western Force through these difficult circumstances and we will deploy various ARU management staff to Western Australia to provide assistance to all players and staff."

News Corp Australia

Topics:  aru super rugby western force


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