The n Rugby Union will be the subject of a Senate inquiry into the future of the code after a motion from West n politician Linda Reynolds was passed in the Upper House on Wednesday.
In light of RugbyWA losing its appeal in the NSW Supreme Court to keep the Western Force in Super Rugby next year, Senator Reynolds asked that an inquiry to be established to look into a number of issues, including:
– ARU board deliberations leading to the decision to reduce n teams from five to four.
– Whether there continues to be a truly national national rugby union footprint in .
– The role of national and state-based bodies in encouraging greater national participation in rugby.
– The corporate governance arrangements and composition of national and state-based rugby bodies, including community representation on those bodies
– The impact of the decision to reduce the number of n teams on national participation in rugby.
The matter will be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee and the inquiry is expected to report back to the Senate by November.
“Having a look at the lack of transparency in the decision-making process of how they ended up picking Western Force to go, clearly indicates to me that there is something deeply in trouble, or troublesome, in the heart of ARU,” Reynolds said.
“We’ve heard variously that it was about money, about the number of teams. Western Force is the nation’s third-largest rugby-playing community, and its removal from the national competition will leave n rugby all the poorer.”
The ARU released documents on Tuesday evening outlining why it had cut the Force, which will no doubt be used as evidence during the inquiry.
It is an extraordinary length to go to after what has been a tumultuous year for rugby in .
RugbyWA released a statement last month which read: “RugbyWA strongly supports the call for a Senate inquiry based on the ARU’s misinformation as to their financial position and their lack of information available for the reasons for removing the Western Force.”
Meanwhile, Force backer Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and RugbyWA are still exploring their legal options and will likely make an announcement on Thursday as to whether they will take their appeal to the Court of Appeal or the High Court.
Players, coaches, administrators, staff and fans were left shattered on Tuesday after the NSW Supreme Court dismissed an appeal to from RugbyWA to keep the Force in Super Rugby for 2018.
While Forrest has already made it clear he plans to fight the decision further up the legal chain, there is a sense in the west that perhaps fighting on might not be worth it given decisions from an arbitrator and the NSW Supreme Court have both gone the way of the ARU.
The ARU has made contact with RugbyWA since the decision was handed down and the two parties are working through the difficult logistical process that is shutting down a team.
The killer blow for those at the Force, however, was the ARU’s reluctance to accept Forrest’s staggering $50 million offer, which could have done the world of good for the code in .
Meanwhile, Forrest’s declaration that he will bankroll a breakaway rugby competition has piqued the interest of a number of unions in the Indo-Pacific region that have an appetite to be involved.
Fairfax Media understands that since the billionaire gave a snapshot of the six-team competition he had in mind, there has been a surprising number of rugby nations come forward and inquire about what the rebel league could entail.
It is believed Hong Kong, Singapore as well as rugby administrators from New Zealand and South Africa – both countries that field teams in Super Rugby – have made contact regarding the competition.
RugbyWA is said to have been surprised by the amount of interest from overseas.
A few weeks ago Forrest flagged the idea of creating his own rugby competition, somewhat in protest at the ARU’s decision to cut the Force, but it was on Tuesday that rugby unions from Asia picked up the phone to find out what the fuss was about.
Forrest’s plan is well advanced and it is expected he will outline more details about which teams, where matches will be played and the like, early next week.
Meanwhile, SANZAAR has sprung into action to get its draw for Super Rugby sorted.
Rather than sitting on its hands, SANZAAR has had a draw waiting to go for some time now and says it will be released in about two weeks.
For context, last year’s draw was released on September 20, meaning it will come out at a similar time despite the frustrating delays associated with cutting an n team.