Monday's Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News

Monday’s Rugby News has a whole load of reactions and news about the Force ARU thing, as well as Wallabies and Wallaroos stuff. Get amongst it.

No More Force


As you’ve probably heard, the Western Force lost their arbitration case against the ARU. That means the ARU have made the decision to ‘discontinue’ the Force’s licence from 2018 onwards.

RugbyWA, says the SMH, are considering continuing the fight in the NSW Supreme Court.

“We’ve made the decision here today and if they go down that process we’ll deal with that when it comes,” ARU chairman Cameron Clyne said in a presser announcing the decision.

“It’s not a very pleasant situation but we have to confront reality here,” Clyne said. “Our teams have declined in performance.”

Meanwhile, Bill Pulver added the following:

“We did an exhaustive analysis, a massive spreadsheet on all the variables that went into this decision and some of them community-based, some performance-based and at the end of the day, the best decision for Australian rugby was to remove the Western Force. It made the most sense.”

No More Bill

Bill Pulver - Credit ARU Media - Karen Watson (1)

Bill Pulver also used the press conference to announce that he was resigning as ARU CEO.

“Nobody really wanted to lose a team from this competition but it is clearly the best outcome for Australian rugby,” Pulver said, via the SMH.

“My sense is we now need a period of renewal in Australian rugby, which is why I have told the board that I will step aside as CEO once they have found a replacement.

“My sense is that it’s a good time for renewal. I’m coming up towards the end of my five-year term and I think we want a clean slate that the next generation of rugby in this country will be served with a new head. I think it’s the right time. I have enormous sympathy for the people in WA. They’re great people and I feel very sorry for them.”

Several names have been bandied about, with the SMH reporting that they include Bulldogs CEO Raylene Castle, RugbyWA CEO Mark Sinderberry, former QRU boss Jim Carmichael, and old Waratahs chief Greg Harris.

No More Stooke

The announcement on Friday also saw the resignation of Geoff Stooke, an ARU boardmember and sandgroper, who was the only one to vote against the motion to cut a team.

Stooke has released a statement, found on the RugbyWA website.

“I never wanted to throw any team under the ‘bus’ but to create a situation that considers retaining a team that has lost almost $30million (including nearly $17.5million additional cost to the ARU) since 2011 at the expense of a team that has incurred additional cost to the ARU of only $5.5million since 2005 is outrageous!,” Stooke writes.

“We should be rewarding success not failure. To introduce financial criteria that have nothing to do with the financial viability of each term is less than appropriate.

“An appropriate consultation process was never in place & in my view the Western Force was always being targeted for removal. This was simply because they were seen to be the easiest to remove contractually but they were not the team that deserved to be removed. The process lacked due diligence & contained significant levels of bias.”

Stooke was also never a fan of Super 18 from the start.

“I was opposed to the inclusion of an Argentinian team & a Japanese team in Super Rugby. Without doubt, the failure of such an unwieldy, unattractive & more expensive competition has contributed to the demise of an Australian Super Rugby team & the future demise of rugby in Western Australia. They did not deserve this!”

You can read all his words here.

Twiggy Not Giving Up

matt hodgson andrew twiggy forrest dave wessels

Twiggy Forrest has vowed (again) to not give up the Western Force’s fight, telling all and sundry about how crap he thinks the ARU are. Fortunately he stopped short of calling them paedophiles this time.

“I think the ARU has been famous at bleeding money,” Forrest said (according to “They’ve been propping up Victoria for so many millions of dollars of losses.

“They’ve had this vain pursuit that they can challenge the AFL in AFL’s heartland. That was never going to happen. Melbourne people love the AFL, and I agree with that love — it’s a fantastic sport. [booo!]

“But our love is for rugby. And to try to impose it upon Victoria was just an ego-driven decision. And to not encourage it in WA where the people of this state have a great love for this sport and the Force, is really a retrograde decision against the Force.”

Part of why Forrest is so upset, is the fact that the Rebels lost $30m since 2011, $17.5m of which was the ARU’s money.

“The ARU claim finances were the primary reason behind their decision to axe the Force,” says the article.

“But Forrest says this can’t be true, because he had already told the ARU he would bankroll any potential future losses at the Force. This means, at worst, the Force would always break even.”

Bob Not Happy

bob dwyer avatar

GAGR Friend Bob Dwyer isn’t happy with the decision to cut the Force, calling it a ‘catastrophe’.

“It’s a catastrophe and whatever way you look at it, it’s nothing short of a disaster for Australian rugby,” Dwyer told the SMH. “In terms of player development, no team has done better than the Western Force. It’s a massive blow.

“I’ve never seen a bigger fiasco in all my time in the game. This one takes the cake by a country mile in terms of its concept and its execution. How do they argue it was a good idea then [to add a team], but now it’s a bad one?”

In this catastrophe, Dwyer still sees a ray of light.

“Even though it’s a horrendous decision for WA, some good has come out of it and that is Bill has resigned,” Dwyer said. “The most satisfactory alterative we can possibly think of is for him to leave as soon as possible. Whatever happens after that can only be a step forward.

“How he would know anything about the pursuit of excellence or greatness, I’ll never know. There is nothing that has come out of this that gives anyone any confidence that they know what they’re doing, where they want to go and how to get there.”

Players Not Happy

99 not out

A fair few players have stated their distaste at the call to cut the Force, with Nathan Sharpe chief among them.

“The biggest mistake the ARU could have made,” Sharpie said in a series of tweets. “Time to clear the decks and start fresh.

“Disgraceful. So much good was built in the West. Pathways beginning to pay dividends & now the financial security of a committed community.”

“If I was tasked with building the Australian Rugby Union up off rock bottom, one of the first strongholds I would have on my side is the Western Force – everyday of the week.
What can they possibly be thinking,” he added on Instagram.

Meanwhile, Force captain Heath Tessmann gets the award for pithiness, simply tweeting ‘Cowards’.

WBs Fitness News

Dane Haylett-Petty has been the revelation of the series

Michael Cheika has revealed that most of the Wallabies in the camp are good to go for the 1st Bledisloe, with the only concern being Dane Haylett-Petty.

Kurtley Beale, who was injured playing for Wasps, and was specifically told to recover in time for the Rugby Championship, appears to be ready.

“He had his injury a while back, had a setback in his rehab,” Cheika said to “Since he’s been back, he’s now passing all the levels we needed him to. He’s done full contact training so he’s fine.”

Alongside Beale, Samu Kerevi is also back to full fitness.

“I’ve been pretty pleased with the work ethic that the guys have had over the last few weeks,” Cheika continued.

“There’s’ an acclimatisation period where we really went hard at over the first few weeks after Super Rugby finished and last week we started getting right into some of the detail of our rugby.

“Beale and Kerevi, they’ll be back to full fitness.”

Cheika also revealed that while he’s confident he’ll be ok for the weekend, DHP has a “bit of an elbow injury.”

“I think if there’s any one thing that could keep your focus when something like this happens it’s the quest for winning a Bledisloe,” Cheika said.

“Both Dane and Adam who came in with some injuries have worked super hard to get themselves right and then new guys like (Curtis) Rona and Billy Meakes have just excelled. They’ve had an excellent preparation by their coach [Dave Wessels presumably, Cheika doesn’t mean himself] this year and … they’re competing strongly for places within the team.”

Cheika Feels For Fans

Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika also hopped on Channel Nine’s Sports Sunday and had a bit of a chat about the Force and fans.

“As the coach of the Wallabies I’d like to think the national team is going to be supported no matter what and kids would still aspire to play for the Wallabies,” Cheika said (via

“It does make it harder, I’m not going to say it doesn’t, if there’s not a professional team there, obviously it does, but there’ll still be a pathway for players to come out of there and play in professional rugby in the four other teams in Australia.

“That’s what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to work hard to make sure that pathway is still there – more importantly the supporter base. That’s where – if your parents are following the game when you’re a five or six year old, you’re more likely to follow the game and then start playing the game.

“The professional players they understand they could go from one team to another but I genuinely believe the most difficult thing is for the fan base.”

When asked about the supposed disconnect between the ARU and the grassroots, Cheika said this:

“It’s not (about giving) too much money for the professionals but not enough money for the grassroots,” he said.

“Post the World Cup in 2003 and we had a lot of success on and off the field, we got very corporate-orientated.

“The corporate dollar, the premium, was easy to get and we entertained that corporate dollar at the loss of the grassroots but what they forgot was the guy they were entertaining in the corporate suite was also coaching his kids’ U12s and U10s team and disenfranchising at the one end and looking after the other.

“We got that balance wrong.”

Saffers Not Leaving Sanzaar

Reds vs Cheetahs 2014 SSM_7235

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux has said that his organisation isn’t planning on leaving Sanzaar and Super Rugby, despite the fact that two of his country’s teams are playing in the Pro 14 now.

“We are contracted to SANZAAR until the end of 2020 and will be going into a negotiating period again in the next two years,” Roux said, according to

“We have benefited greatly from the rivalry against Australia and New Zealand and a further relationship is likely to continue to be of great benefit to South African rugby. But joining the PRO14 expands our horizons.

“But to not play in the southern hemisphere competition is unthinkable. We would suffer financial harm.

“We believe participation in PRO14 will bring new intent to our rugby and it introduces summer rugby to our country.”

Martin Anayi, PRO14 Rugby’s CEO, was by Roux’s side.

“This is a ground-breaking feat and a true first in world rugby as we will see north versus south compete on a regular basis,” Anayi said.

“We sit now in an economic situation where we have to try and do things differently and we needed to look at bigger rugby markets and spread across multiple territories.”

Wallaroos Preparing For France

France v Australia - IRB Womens Rugby World Cup 3rd Place Play-Off

The Wallaroos are set to play France early this morning (445am Eastern Time), in the 2nd group game of the Women’s 2017 Rugby World Cup.

They have made only one change from the side that lost 19-17 to Ireland in the first group game. Sarah Riordan is replacing Kayla Sauvao in the centres; Sauvao’s going to the bench. Louise Burrows is replacing the injured Evelyn Horomia in the front row.

“We were really pleased with the way the team performed in their match against Ireland after we made nine changes from the final Test of the New Zealand Tour, and it’s important now that we look to build combinations within the team,” said Wallaroos coach Paul Verrell to

“Our forwards competed well against an experienced Irish pack and they’ll face a similar challenge this Sunday against the French.

“Our backline showed they can be very dangerous with the ball in hand, but we need them to continue to build as we lead into the match against the French. The addition of Sarah Riordan will provide us with another strong ball running option in the midfield.

“The team proved to themselves what they’re capable of in that match against the Irish and now we need them to continue to perform at that level, whilst also looking to grow and develop as a collective unit.”

And because it’s hard to put this on Facebook, enjoy this video of England forward Mako Vunipola practicing his springboard diving:


A post shared by Mako Vunipola (@mako_vunipola) on

  • Adrian

    Lots of good points of view by people like Dwyer, Sharpe, Hodgson in support of the Force, and great article in GAGR by Gaffachino.

    Unfortunately, nasty comments by some Westerners about everyone over East are beginning to appear. Part of the emerging culture of simplistic scapegoating I guess

    I’m beginning to think that it might have been a good idea afterall, despite speaking out in their defence time and time again…..

    Of course, this was a huge ARU cluster fuck, but the board did it. That includes Eales and Co, not just Pulver.

    Forest, with his grubby views on plenty of social issues has lost me, but I still support the Force, and genuinely hope they can find somewhere to play.

    Meanwhile, the job of keeping the Wallabies focused for next Saturday has got even harder.

    Nonetheless, I say, come on the Wallabies

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Some Westerners have a siege mentality, always have, it is just that the internet now gives them a platform to share those views. That being said, there are some pretty mitigating factors – how the Force were chosen to axe of the Rebels who are useless, have failed to engage the Melbourne community (rugby was never going to take off there) and who do not have the pathways or the results is beyond me.

      Getting rid of the Force is a catastrophe both short and longterm.

      But are the Western attitudes really any different than those from the ACT, QLD and VIC towards NSW? The big difference is that the Westerners lump us all in with the New South Welshmen, who we know are the main faction that controls Australian rugby.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        Rugby has nearly doubled in player numbers in Melbourne since the Rebels. Melbourne is 5 years behind Perth because the Rebels started 5 years after the Force, but that’s the only difference. They are both the only states where rugby has grown in Australia in the last 5 years, and cutting either is stupid.

        NSW has what 10 NRL teams? Victoria has 10 AFL teams. Both numbers are irrelevant.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          The Rebels are absolutely invisible in Melbourne. It isn’t hard to double numbers when you are starting from such a low base (incidentally, do you have the figures for this?). Out of all my friends in Melbourne only three had heard of them and only one has even knew that the Rebels played rugby.

          The Melbourne Storm has been the best NRL team for about 10-12 years, and yet the sport is still irrelevant in Melbourne. Rugby is never going to breakthrough except in regards to expats.

          The Rebels’ crowds are the worst in all of Australia despite being in the second biggest city in Aus, and that city is by far the biggest sport city – compare the numbers that AFL matches in Melbourne get vs NRL matches in Sydney. No contest.

          At the end of the day Perth is the only region in Australia where rugby is (a) growing consistently and from a high base and (b) bigger than rugby league.

          Also, the Rebels were pathetic. I have never seen the Force phone it in the way that the Rebels did vs the Crusaders last year or most matches this year.

          The Rebels have lost, what, $30 million in 6 years, costing the ARU $15 million? The only possible argument for keeping the Rebels over the Force is “potential market size”, which is BS. Anyway, hopefully the Rebels improve next year.

          I didn’t want any team being cut, but the ARU rushed the introduction of the Rebels when Aussie rugby wasn’t ready, and it is the Force, not the Rebels, who are paying the price. The ARU needed to wait another few years before adding a 5th team was going to be sustainable.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          If you don’t want any team cut, stop attacking one of the teams.

          You keep comparing rugby to other sports. What happens outside rugby is irrelevant. What is the point of picking some other entertainment that isn’t rugby and comparing? Rugby isn’t as popular as gardening, or going to movies either, so let’s shut down all the teams.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          ‘You keep comparing rugby to other sports. What happens outside rugby is irrelevant.’

          It isn’t irrelevant, that was the ARUs view when they prematurely expanded into Melbourne due to the ‘market size’, without determining whether the market was at all open to rugby. It is the only possible criteria that leads to the Force being cut.

          ‘If you don’t want any team cut, stop attacking one of the teams.’

          Assuming the ARU is telling the truth (big assumption, I know) then one team absolutely had to be cut in order to stop the sport from going bankrupt in Australia.

          Realistically, it should have been either the Rebels or (and I say this as a Brumbies fan) the Brumbies before the Force.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          The only criteria that leads to the Force being cut is that it is the only legal option.

          There is a market for a competitive team in Melbourne, and there was when the Rebels were introduced. They averaged 19,000 in the first year. The lack of any equalisation measures in the league, and the active undermining of the salary cap with ‘top ups’ has resulted in poor performance on the field, and drop off of crowd. No more drop off by the way in percentage terms than other states.

          But all that just shows SR is generally badly run.

          The ARU had a surplus last year. They also got a $20 million increase in revenue due to the new broadcast deal. Rugby is not on the verge of bankruptcy, but the ARU is doing its best to get yhere.

        • Bakkies

          Equalisation like 10 foreign players, marquee players and ARU funding while privately owned. They are a utter shambles of an ‘organisation.’

          How can a serious sporting team in a professional environment run without a CEO for three years?

          They don’t even have a head coach for next season despite being so sure of their position in the competition.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Yeah. Labelling the person in charge as CEO instead of general manager, or whatever must have been a serious mistake. I’m surprised any companies could run prior to the 1970s.

          Equalising a single team is ridiculous. Equalisation works across a league.

          The number of foreign players isn’t relevant, the quality is what matters.

          Leagues are responsible for the conditions under which teams compete. An unbalanced unatractive league is the fault of league management not any one team. All Aussie teams have dropped crowds by more than half in the last 5 years. The fault lies with league management. Stop picking on particular teams. It is just doing more damage.

        • Missing Link

          Correct, I suspect running without a CEO was a cost cutting move as you jump into a completely different salary bracket when advertising for a CEO and the Rebels obviously thought it to be a waste of cash.

          Only need to look at Pulver’s 750k to validate that

        • Bakkies

          Fat load of good it did them.

          So who was responsible for running that mess of an ‘organisation’ on a day to day basis while they were losing money hand over fist?

        • Missing Link

          From Memory, when the former CEO stepped down to take up a position at the ARU (was his name Clarke? recently resigned too?), then they put the GM in charge. Being the most senior position in the org would have ultimately put the onus on him until Cox bought them, and it would have shifted to Cox.

        • paul

          A bit of subject, but I am surprised not more was made of Cox’s previous comments about a year ago regarding how hard it was making the Rebels a successful franchise under Super rugby.

          Which says a lot about the unfair nature of Super rugby. Yes they expanded the game in this country, but at no stage really supported that expansion.

          The reality is outside of the traditional markets teams are simply going to struggle to survive. Because they are not there for the right reasons

          Australia struggled with one expansion team but two snapped the rope.

        • Bakkies

          How can you place an equalisation across the league when it is a multi national competition with players paid in different currencies?

          This doesn’t change the fact and they were a drain on ARU funds while they were privately owned twice.

        • Missing Link

          An equalisation should have occured across the 5 Aussie teams at least. We could have controlled that. There needed to be some sort of influence from the ARU about who could sign where. The goal here would be to prevent situations where a team ends up with 3 good scrum halves and instead of the third signing with another Aussie team because he wants more game time, he signs overseas instead.

          There are many examples of this, Michael Dowsett at the Brumbies is only one. Matt Lucas another.
          Hegarty left the Rebels and plays the occasional game off the bench at the Tahs – will probably never play again with Beale coming back, unless he moves. McIntyre gone from the Reds because he ended up 3rd in line, the list goes on.

          The whole thing is a shambles. We should have a top line player in every position at each team, an understudy/backup for each position and any under 20s player either in the squad if possible or injury cover. Signing overseas players should only be an option if they can bring leadership and experience to the team.

          anyway that’s just how I see things personally

        • Bakkies

          ‘An equalisation should have occured across the 5 Aussie teams at least. We could have controlled that. There needed to be some sort of influence from the ARU about who could sign where. The goal here would be to prevent situations where a team ends up with 3 good scrum halves and instead of the third signing with another Aussie team because he wants more game time, he signs overseas instead.’

          RUPA is why that doesn’t exist.

          The ARU can enforce a salary cap but bizarrely can’t introduce a policy like the IRFU has where they limit the amount of foreign players that can play in one key position. That would eliminate the situation where we now have three foreign flyhalfs playing across the Super Rugby teams which reduce the options for the Wallabies.

          Young players like Deegan and McIntyre have seen through this and signed overseas contracts. Then you have players with Super Rugby experience like Sam Lane languishing in the Shute Shield.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Money transfers across national borders. Icehockey does it. The NRL does it. The A-league does it. The NBL does it. Baseball does it. The NBA does it. All these leagues operate with more than one currency. The NHL operates with Canada producing half the players, but only has a quarter of the teams, and there are two currencies – it has draft and salary cap. The Kontinental Hockey League operates from China to Europe in 7 countries with a draft and salary cap (not that it’s spectacularly successful, but anyway it’s the second most prestigious icehockey league in the world).

          It’s about rules and access to players. It’s got nothing to do with borders or currencies.

        • Bakkies

          All of that is completely irrelevant Andrew.

          One of the reasons why South African players are leaving is the weak Rand. It’s getting smashed on the exchange rate and there was already a significant gap in what South African and Australian Rugby players are getting paid. You can’t enforce a salary cap on SA based upon Aus and NZ salaries and cost of living. SA simply can’t afford to increase their pay levels and on the other hand Aus and NZ won’t be able to reduce their salaries to bring them in line with the rates SA are paying their players. The latter scenario breaches the CBA in Australia and will lead to more players going abroad.

          Don’t know about Argentina and Japan; Aus, NZ and SA all have different CBAs and pay structures. For your suggestion to work there has to a single CBA for Super Rugby and one player’s association body. That is simply not going to happen.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          The bulk of the money comes from btoadcasting via SANZAAR and is then distributed. They could distribute some of it to the teams to make them equal – lower teams get more and top teams a bit less until they are reasonably equal.

          The central body might cover player salaries but then set limits per team as NZRU does for its teams. This can prevent bankruptcies. The adjustment might be via a new player budget rather than a draft.

          There are all sorts of ways it could be done. It doesn’t have to be a draft, or salary cap.

          It doesn’t need a player agreement, but it might be better if there was one. There is nothing impossible about a SANZAAR wide player agreeement.

          You keep saying things can’t happen, but they can, and in fact do in other sports. What won’t happen is a league made of uncompetitive teams succeeding. Also a league made of teams based on player production can never do as well as one based on audience, and it will lose out to other leagues that match their potential audience better, weather those leagues are in Europe or locally. All the rest can be negotiated.

          The agreement to cut teams while retaining SANZAAR revenue for the national bodies is a very clumbsy and low resolution version of directing more money to poorly performing areas. It can be done much more effectively and without the damage of cutting off a portion of the market.

        • Missing Link

          I couldn’t agree with this more, the ARU made the wrong decision, but cutting the Rebels was also not the right decision.

          The critical mistake by the ARU was pulling out of a key area of the country, and that goes for Melbourne too. We need a contact point in 5 major cities and this has a lot to do with the vast size of our country. If it was NZ who had to cut a team, they could cut the Chiefs as the Blues are only a short drive up the road. apart from Canberra – Sydney, our main cities are miles away from eachother.

        • Missing Link

          There’s been a push for rugby in Melbourne for a long time, it’s not new. The driver for a super rugby team in Melbourne was due to them hosting test for years and drawing pretty good crowds. Wasn’t their 90 odd thousand at that Bledisloe in the late 90’s? I’m not sure if you remember but the Force got the nod ahead of Melbourne back in 2006 or 07 whenever it was. It was only a matter of time before Melbourne got a team.

        • Missing Link

          Rebels attendance was reasonable in comparison to the Force up until SR went to 18 teams. From then on, we had a situation where all attendances were down across the country. It could be the 18 team expansion or it could be the drop in performance of our teams but there was a significant drop in crowd numbers across the country, not just in Perth or Melbourne.

        • Patrick

          it doesn’t have to break through to be a success.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Adrian, you support the Greens and most people do not agree with your views. Let’s leave party politics out of this and focus on rugby.

    What happened to the Force is a travesty: the wrong decision was made, by the wrong people in the wrong way. WA never had an opportunity not even at ARU Board level to present its case. A farcical “process” was run, with no clear criteria for the decision and then secret diliberations were held where the Force representatives were excused and a decision was handed down without a proper explanation. The finance and performance excuse rings hollow as the Force outperformed the Rebels on all of these. Show us the spreadsheet at least.

    The rugby public is still treated like mushrooms and we in WA do not accept this decision as Clyne and Pulver gave us enough treasons not to. It is not that we do not like it, we could even except it if the facts support it. However it is because it does not make sense and we do not understand how we got to the conclusion that we are outraged. Enough to pull our support from the Eastern States Rugby Union and the Wallabies. We as rugby supporters should at least get an explanation on what the criteria was used and how the Force and Rebels compared. We ask rugby supporters all over Australia show your solidarity by wearing blue to the tests as the Force fans and players deserve better. Thank you for your support!

    • onlinesideline

      yeah Adrian – didnt you say you left that other site and came to GGR for precisley that reason – no politics :)

      its part of life mate – its in everything from head of state down to who gets their hands on the remote control.

    • 30 mm tags

      Good on you. Rugby needs a revolution and the existing board and leadership need to stand down and throw open the leadership to a vote. Go the Western Australians. Most of us in Qld and NSW support you and believe the wrong team was axed.

  • Patrick

    Well I could pick the next CEO in a flash: whichever one has spent the least time in NSW.

    • Alister Smith

      SIndenberry? His name has been mentioned in some articles though asking the bloke who handled the Force to come in and manage a Force-less ARU seems ironic

      • Bakkies

        The same man that hired Rod Macqueen as head coach of the Brumbies while the team was threatened with the axe before they even played a single match. Macqueen was given free reign to run the team as he saw fit. That included inviting the ACT public to provide suggestions for the team’s name.

        One of the best ever decisions made in Australian Rugby.

        • Who?

          I want Macqueen as chair of the ARU, to replace Clyne, with Stooke back to be his right hand.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Good write up Nick. It’s a shit situation and I fear it’s still got a long way to go before its settled. Interestingly and quite pertinent is that there aren’t a lot of options offered against the ARU decision except lose the Rebels and I’m not sure that option is any less palatable.
    Good luck to the girls, hope they go well. Bugga! Just seen the result.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      There are plenty of better options, and they are proven in other sports. Rugby is completely alone in trying to exist with a segmented player market. Cutting teams to concentrate talent is also proven to be ineffective.

  • Jarrod Arnol

    Hodgo for CEO

  • Kokonutcreme

    Apparently the ARU aren’t done yet with WA rugby. In the Australian today, Wayne Smith reports on threatened future of Perth Spirit.

    “Meanwhile, it has come to light that the ARU also intends cutting the Perth Spirit from the NRC at the end of this season. RugbyWA vice-chairman John Edwards said the club only realised their NRC team was also under threat during negotiations a few weeks ago after the ARU had issued a Termination of Alliance Agreement. (The agreement is the contract signed between the Force and the ARU when the national body bought the Super Rugby licence in June last year.)

    “In the course of renegotiation about what would happen should we lose the arbitration, the NRC Spirit team was in the Alliance as well and we asked them about that,” said Edwards. “They basically said this will be their last season, the one that’s about to start.”

    • SuckerForRed

      Makes a mockery of the “pathway” talk then doesn’t it.

      • Alister Smith

        it would seem the pathway will be to play AFL instead

      • Bakkies

        A pathway to the succession and the Currie Cup.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I like that option and I think SA would go for it

    • Andrew Luscombe

      Bill Pulver said in the press conference on Friday that the Spirit would continue. Not sure what to make of that. Perhaps the CEO of the ARU doesn’t know what is going on?

  • Ricky Johnson

    In case anyone forgot, theres a Bledisloe Cup test this weekend…..

    • SuckerForRed

      Yeah…… I think no body cares……

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I care

    • TheNutorious

      Does NZ versus the middle class suburbs of Sydney and Brisbane representative side still count as the Bledisloe Cup?

      • Ricky Johnson

        It was for 70 odd years, and Australia was even competitive, but we moved on from having three Super Rugby teams.

        • TheNutorious

          Which reflected the growth of the country and spread of the game.

          While they had always neglected the game outside of its silver-spoon roots it never did anything as callous to those outside as it did on Friday

        • Ricky Johnson

          I agree 100% mate. Cutting the Force was the easiest move for the ARU, but the wrong one.

          This is directed at the ARU, not you, but Rugby is not a mainstream national sport here. The key to success is investing in your strengths, and based on the numbers that is Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.

          I give the Rebels 12 months.

        • TheNutorious

          I disagree. The ARU’s responsibility is to the game nationally.

          Not to have strong Super Rugby sides in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. It should have a presence in all of the major populated areas and top level teams existing for aspirational purposes.

          We’re just gaming the system otherwise.

        • Ricky Johnson

          But in pursuit of this national footprint the grassroots has been neglected.
          Based on resources, you can only have one or the other. Pick one.

          The reality is Pulver walked into these constraints. I am so surprised at how lightly JON has got off in recent days.

        • Who?

          But when has the grassroots – the real grassroots, not the Shute Shield – ever really been a priority..?

      • Nutta

        Boom Tish!

        But your geography is a bit off. It’s NZ vs a dozen guys from east of ANZAC parade, a 4 Churchie old boys, 2 ex Mungo players and 3 sons and grandsons of ‘Legends’.

        The rest of the squad is open-sourced to plug the gaps the core couldn’t fill.

        • TheNutorious

          It is a country of 4 million people. I couldn’t care less about them. Rugby is all they have.

        • Ricky Johnson

          And our Deputy PM. I thought the infiltration only went as far as Robbie Deans and Quade Cooper.

  • Duncher

    The one decision I cannot understand is Pulver’s resignation. Surely this guy needs to manage the fallout from this decision… That’s weak

    • onlinesideline

      Exactly – surely you’d stick around to shape the new future that you fought so hard to create and showing us all that you were right. Instead hes just bailing, its freakin incredible.

      • Missing Link

        if he truly believed in his decision being the just and only way forward, he would have stuck around, but he knows he balls it up, that’s why

        • onlinesideline

          ML – are you THE missing link or is it you just really miss Ewen ?

        • Missing Link

          I changed my username just after he walked down that corridor, and he’s been missing ever since. I often do wonder where we’d be in a parallel universe with McKenzie as head coach. Who knows?

        • onlinesideline

          So does Quade.

        • Who?

          Parallel doesn’t always mean a better universe (yeah, I saw what you did there!). Problems in the Wallabies are problems in the Wallabies – but they didn’t create governance issues or nation wide coaching failures at Super level (and below). I don’t see there’s even the loopiest conspiracy theorist out there who could truly blame Cheika for what’s going on right now with the ARU, the Super 18, the Force, the Spirit… I mean, I could try if you want me to, but I wouldn’t believe a word of it. ;-P

        • Happyman

          Well said when Ewen got knifed in the back that was the edge of the cliff.We have been in free fall from that point on.

    • SuckerForRed

      Jumping before he gets a great big shove in the back? Also is the rest of the people involved in the decision hoping that his “sacrifice” will stop the peasants baying for their blood?

    • Missing Link

      weak as piss but he had no option. He has caused irreparable damage to Australian rugby and he knows it. jumping ship was his only option as he wouldn’t have been around much longer anyway without ending up with a nasty case of whiplash.

    • Braveheart81

      By the same token I don’t think he’s the guy to lead Australian rugby out of this mess. Any goodwill he had with all stakeholders has completely evaporated. The ARU needs someone new who isn’t tarnished by this debacle to lead the game forward.

    • Nutta

      Aaaahhhh Duncher…

      Your naivety is reassuring.

      See, if it were you or I, we would feel compelled to stick around and clean up our mess.

      However that is not the way of 29 Christie Street, St Leonards, NSW. There you get come in for a few years to be sure you create a situation whereby you can then leave and charge North Sydney Consultant rates to come back under the pretensions of “clean-up”.

      It’s a well-trodden path of sustainable-business-creation. It’s popular in all Business School MBA programmes these days.

      • Braveheart81

        It isn’t about Pulver and him having a chance to make amends though. He needs to move aside and let someone new take control and work on taking Australian rugby forward out of this mess.

        I don’t see what possible good it could do for Pulver to remain CEO.

        • first time long time

          I pity the fool who has to jump on the grenade though!

        • Nutta
        • Nutta

          And that’s a fair opinion to. But for me, I come from the land of ‘You fk it, you fix it.’ It’s like the 3rd grade kicking rule: ‘You kick it, you go get it back.’

        • Braveheart81

          That’s fine if there’s no one else involved or if it involves putting someone else out to fix up your mess. I don’t think that is the case here though. What makes anyone think that Pulver is the best person to navigate Australian rugby through the next 6 months until his contract finishes? What makes anyone think that the various stakeholders will be keen to trust him and engage with the process after the disaster with the Force?

          There’s more at stake here than wanting Pulver to feel the pain of his actions by riding it out or having a chance to make up for the mess he has helped create.

        • Nutta

          Dude, I’m being 3-parts facetious and 1-part whistful.

      • 30 mm tags

        Bill Pulver is not that sort of bloke. He would not be so crass. The fact that this has been very poorly handled gives us the reason to support a new broom, which does not include Bill Pulver.

  • Woolfe

    It is not a national team Chek. So no, you will get zero support in the west.

    • TheNutorious

      The sad thing is that you’re right, it is not a national team. It is at best an East Coast team but even that is being extremely generous considering the elitism that exists.

  • TheNutorious

    “We did an exhaustive analysis, a massive spreadsheet on all the variables that went into this decision and some of them community-based, some performance-based and at the end of the day, the best decision for Australian rugby was to remove the Western Force. It made the most sense.”

    Utter horseshit

    World Rugby should (but won’t) look at the Australian Rugby Union. It is not serving the national interests of the game in the region it exists to serve.

    • Simon

      I’d love to see this spreadsheet, considering that by any metric I can think of, whether community-based, on field performance-based or financial performance-based, the Force should stay. They have a strong community culture, came second in the conference, are in much better financial shape, and have a guarantee from Twiggy that they will not make a loss going forward – literally the ONLY Australian franchise that can claim not to be a drain on the ARU purse.

      So yes, that is clearly horseshit.

      I think the sole criterion for cutting the Force is that the ARU owns the licence and they have received legal advice that that gives them a more legally defensible position. It simply cannot be based on anything else, except perhaps some sort of delusional financial forward modelling that shows rugby gaining a foothold in Victoria.

      • TheNutorious

        If they were applying the obvious metrics to the decision then the team to be cut wouldn’t have been either the Force or the Rebels.

        Not that I would have defended that decision either.

      • Darrin Briggs

        Yep all based on legal reasons.

  • onlinesideline

    why is arbitration soo private. Why cant we see the findings and reasonings behind findings and what were the actual legal points in consideration. Why has the talk by ARU been about justification / spreadsheets and not about the contractual dispute – ie the contract that WF feel has not been fufilled. If its a sound legal defence surely the Supreme Court will be a whole different kettle of fish more in favour of the Force. Isnt the Supreme court a better battlegreound for pure legal technicalities ?

    • Bakkies

      The Force gave arbitration a go as it was the quickest way possible rather than taking it to court. From what was posted the ARU barely participated in the arbitration.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      Arbitration is as private as the two parties agree to – it can even be virtually secret, on the other hand, if the two parties agree, everything can be released. You can’t see it because both parties have not agreed to let you.

      As Bakkies said, people go to arbitration largely because it is quick, but also because it is not public.

      The arbitration ruling is unlikely to be strictly overturned, but we don’t know the scope of the questions put to the arbitrator. You would guess from what came out in the media, that it was about the meaning of the agreement. In the Supreme Court they can challenge the agreement itself – i.e. was it entered in good faith.

      • Bakkies

        I think the Force went to arbitration as they were clearly the ARU’s preference to be cut and whether they had an agreement that entitles them to stay in the Super Rugby comp till the end of the 2020 season.

        Turning up to Perth and providing the Force with an argument to say why they should be cut and not allowing the Force to have a say in why they should stay hasn’t been tested yet. As far as I know anyway.

        The fact that the ARU used the arbitration outcome as a reason to cull them officially may lay them in the merde as the Force has already got an injunction now waiting on the right to appeal. The Force had already prepared for this outcome months ago.

  • Alister Smith

    Pulver commented that “Nobody really wanted to lose a team from this competition but it is clearly the best outcome for Australian rugby,”. I take issue with this comment. It is not “clearly the best outcome for Australian rugby”. It may be the best achievable outcome given the current financial constraints but the best outcome for Australian rugby would be that all teams remain and that we actually further expand participation until we can have a financially sustainable national competition built on those increased player numbers. I admit I don’t understand the logic of cutting WA – I am an eastern stater (though not from the metropolitan areas) but I really sympathise with anyone over there and I would have thought that, given the geographic limitations, they more than anyone, needed a standalone team. I will preference this next statement by saying that I dont want Melbourne to go either (and yes for those vigilant ones I have changed my mind) BUT it MIGHT be easier if Melbourne were cut to provide a temporary pathway until we can build up the numbers a bit more and sustain a team of our own.

    I also noticed below talk of the Perth Spirit also being cut. This would be grossly unfair and almost vindictive and certainly counterproductive for the growth of the game.
    I also want to say one thing about Bill Pulver and the other executive. I am really not close enough to any of this to know whether Pulver is a good operator or not. Certainly throughout this the communication from the ARU has been poor and I think that is at least part of his responsibility. Certainly, the process that was established and followed in making this decision took far too long and, at least from the outside (and in the opinion of at least one board member), appears at odds with the initial proposal and not at all transparent.
    However, I think it is far too easy to lump all of this on one full time employee. I have worked in companies with boards and if you are making decisions like this you have to take it to the board to seek board approval. Only one board member has resigned and that suggests to me that the remainder of the board were supportive of the decisions made by the executive team. All board members whether former players or business people have to take responsibility for this. John Eales was perhaps the finest player we have ever had and a great on field leader but from my view point I have seen nothing from him to suggest that he is above criticism in this and I would strongly dispute calls from someone in another forum that he is the man fix it. I like all of you who visit this site love my rugby, I love the game for itself and I also love what it has done for me in my career and personal life, the fiiendships I have gained and the things that I have achieved. However, we seem, at least at the state and national level, to have a real struggle to attract and retain quality administrators. That is despite rugby perhaps more than any other sport having many players and ex-players being involved to a high level in the corporate sector (though perhaps this is the problem??). In an earlier post I called for an independent review of the whole national structure including governance, to identify a better model for developing rugby in the future and I think the events of the past few days support that even more.
    On a side note, i see that Mark Sindenberry has been named as a potential replacement for Bill Pulver. Maybe if he is that is the only way we could hope to save rugby in the west.

    • TheNutorious

      If you were to start from scratch and select 4 cities to facilitate professional rugby teams to grow the game nationally, would we be choosing Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney?

      There’s a pretty f***** big elephant in the room there.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Why? Perth has as much sway as Melbourne and less competition from other codes

        • TheNutorious

          Blank canvas, choose 4 cities to put teams in for Australia. Wouldn’t be what we have.

          I wouldn’t cut them either.

        • Who?

          Pretty sure he’s pointing out that Australia’s largest inland city is nowhere near Australia’s fourth largest city… The fourth largest city would be Perth, after Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane…
          Though I’m not wanting to cull the Brumbies (and I don’t think The Nut is, either). :-)

        • Missing Link

          That’s spot on and it makes you wonder, why not the Brumbies? but as soon as you mention it, people start making a lot of noise.

        • mutley

          They are the highest rating Australian team on Foxtel I believe

        • Missing Link

          Good point which may lead to one of the key reasons the Force were axed – Their home games start at 11:30PM in NZ and 9:30PM in the eastern states which would limit the viewing. even the eastern state home games are a late start in NZ. I guess that’s why they tended to play a lot more 3:30PM AEST games this year. I know this doesn’t do the Force fans any justice, but Melboure are aligned with Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane for that 7:30PM time slot.

  • TheNutorious

    I’d like to know what people think the purpose of the ARU is, and the purpose of Super Rugby?

    If the most important thing is having a side that can win Super Rugby, then cut more teams.

    If that isn’t the priority then what the hell happened on Friday?

    For me the purpose of the ARU is to manage the game nationally. The purpose of Super Rugby is to give a top top level competition for sides in our major populated areas to compete and be a tool to market the game to people in the catchment areas. Neither seem fit for purpose.

    Who gives a shit if this helps the Waratahs or the Reds win Super Rugby? We’re selling out the game in Australia to achieve that goal.

    • Alister Smith

      I would add providing a pathway for players between club/national comp and national representation

  • HK Red

    Please Lord, not Jim Carmichael.
    First day in the job, he’d appoint Woody Graham as Wallabies coach.

    • Happyman

      As it is the least logical thing to do surely he must be the favourite for the job.
      Ultimately they need a high calibre candidate to replace Bill P. The issue with the ARU and Aus rugby in general is they alway have appointed from wtithin. Look at all of the high performers who are doing well outside Australia in Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere. The board is made up entirely of the usual suspects who are happy with the status quo as it has served them well over there entire life.

      • Bakkies

        He was a candidate to replace John O’Neill but unfortunately undid all his good work rebuilding the Reds with several stupid decisions that define stupidity.

      • Alister Smith

        I guess we will conduct a world wide search for a replacement so I suppose it will depend on who is in the carpark at the time based on past performance

        • Who?

          She’s not far down the road from St Leonards – managing the Bulldogs…
          Can’t remember her name, but there’s a Kiwi lady being floated as the likely replacement. She’d be a great asset to the game, but I’m not sure she deserves the sort of mess she’d be walking into.

        • Bakkies

          Raelene Castle who made the same mistake as O’Neill and Carmichael by offering a fresh contract to a struggling coach.

        • Who?

          So she clearly understands how to do the job! :-D

        • Alister Smith

          Raelene Castle may also have been partially responsible for the Dogs going over there salary cap but I think she has a good reputation – at least prior to that. Thing is we need a person who understands rugby but isnt beholden to the traditional rugby pressure groups (or can rise above it) to make decisions that are best for the game as a whole

        • StewedP

          God help Rugby if she gets it – a Kiwi and a mungo-baller.

  • Bakkies

    I take it this was typed well before the hiding that the Wallaroos received from France?

  • Greg
    • Kiwi rugby lover

      That’s set the cat amongst the pigeons. Or maybe the fox amongst the fat cats

    • Perth girl

      And will until the truth comes out

  • Alister Smith

    I just had a quick look at Cameron Clyne’s bio on wikipedia.

    It appears that he has spent most of his time at the NAB – perhaps that’s where he developed his likely of cutting branches – of course you cant replace the Western Force with a couple more ATMs .

    Also it looks like someone might have got to his bio as it says “In December 2015 he was regrettably appointed as chairman of the Australian Rugby Union.[3]

    • Missing Link

      I mentioned it a while ago, sport and business are vastly different. You can’t drag a Super Rugby team into your office at 4:30PM on a Friday afternoon, tell them times are tough, the company has been forced to restructure and that their role in the company is no longer required. Then allow them to pack their things and have security escort them out of the business.

      Clyne missed the memo on this!

  • jamie

    I hope we put Kerevi at 12 and keep him there for a decade. His running ability alone demands a starting position, and the idea of him becoming a distributor is frightening. I love him. Let him become the next Ma’a Nonu.

  • Charcoal

    Has anyone even considered the fact that the Australian Super Rugby teams’ poor performance is not about the number of teams, but the lack of investment in the grassroots? The players coming through the current system, which is heavily reliant on the privileged private schools, are just not up to scratch. The public school system has been largely ignored, with the former NSW Combined High Schools competition now a mere shadow of what it once was. Just look at how many talented potential Rugby players have been lost to League.

    To blame the poor performance of our Super Rugby teams on the dilution of talent because of too many teams is a poor excuse, when it goes much deeper than that. I don’t agree with the cutting of any of our teams.

    Having said that, we’d be better off going it alone with our own domestic competition. Can anyone seriously give just one positive benefit of our involvement in Super Rugby? I thought so, the silence is deafening. What we need is another Kerry Packer to bankroll an upgraded NRC. Twiggy and Kerry Stokes, are you listening? The Saffas and Kiwis can bugger off as far as I’m concerned.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      SR brings in more money than a domestic comp could in the forseeable future.

      If a domestic comp was to be of a reasonable standard it would leave less money for grass roots, not more. It would take at least 15 years to get back to similar income levels.

      SR is badly run. The quickest way to bring improvement is to fix it. Control costs better to free up some money for grass roots, and properly use salary caps and revenue splits across the whole league to make it competitive and more attractive.

      SR has in the past been beneficial for Australia. It can be again.


Hopes to play David Pocock in the inevitable biopic. Lifelong fan of whoever Jarrad Hayne is currently playing for.

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