Super Rugby continues to be in turmoil.
The make-up of next season’s competition can’t be decided until the situation in Australia is finally decided.
The on-going shambles in Australia, which further intensified last week after the Western Force were granted the right to appeal the Australian Rugby Union’s decision to axe the team from the competition, is causing headaches for everyone.
Franchises would usually have received a draft of next year’s proposed draw, before submitting their feedback to Sanzaar so they could firm up the schedule.
“That draw, it really does need to be with all the teams very, very shortly,” said Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach
“But we’re still waiting to see that first version of the draw, which will enable us to provide feedback. I would imagine we won’t get a huge amount of time to give that feedback this year.”
Sanzaar declined to comment when contacted, but is sure to have a first draft ready to fire out to the teams as soon as the 15 teams are confirmed.
All franchises will eagerly be awaiting the conclusion of the drawn out mess across the ditch, which kicked off after Sanzaar announced in April two South African sides and one Australian team would be culled from the competition after this year.
With the Force and Melbourne Rebels on the chopping block, the ARU predicted it would take 48-72 hours to make a decision.
However, it took four months for the Force to be told their license would be discontinued, prompting outrage in Western Australia when the decision was made on August 11.
South Africa decided to cut loose the Cheetahs and Kings early last month. Both teams have joined the Pro 14 (formally Pro 12) competition in Europe.
This morning a further revelation came from Andrew Forrest, the billionaire trying to save the Western Force –
Billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest has called on Cameron Clyne to resign, claiming the ARU chairman lied about the reasons he chose to axe the Western Force.
Forrest says he has stumbled across legal advice sent to the ARU in February stating the Force was the best Super Rugby team to axe because the legal risk was low.
Forrest says the ARU’s axing of the Force was a charade and the franchise had been ambushed.
‘It’s clear now with the document that I have just received that the Western Force was ambushed. It’s been bullied,’ Forrest said.
‘It shows clearly that in late February this year, the advice was received and taken to cut the Western Force for no other reason apart from legal advice.
‘Well I’m here to say to the ARU you cannot bully this team. Your ambush has been sprung.
‘You have now been discovered. Chairman of the ARU Mr Cameron Clyne, you’ve told me so many times that there was a broad spreadsheet of factors which were all based on merit and on fairness.
‘And we all now know that was a charade.
‘I ask you now to resign. This has been discovered. The secret is now out.
‘The process from here on must become transparent. We must all come clean.’
Last week, Forrest offered the ARU a package worth about $50 million for them to reverse their decision to axe the Force.
A significant portion of that money would have gone into grass roots rugby, but the ARU rejected it.
The Force could still win their way back into the Super competition if their Supreme Court appeal is successful.
A judgement could be handed down by as early as this week.
Forrest says it’s not too late for the ARU board to reverse the decision.
He says Australian rugby can thrive with five professional teams.
Force great Matt Hodgson said he felt betrayed by Clyne, and also called on the chairman to quit.
Below is the document Andrew Forrest claims was sent to the ARU board from the ARU management on February 24.
SUPER RUGBY TERMINATION RIGHTS
Legal risk: High
Unless circumstances change, ARU would need to negotiate an agreed termination of the Participation Deed with the Brumbies.
If a negotiated exit is not achievable, an attempt by ARU to terminate the Brumbies Participation Deed without cause would constitute an unlawful termination.
Legal risk: High
Unless circumstances change, ARU would need to negotiate an agreed termination of the Participation Deed with the Rebels.
If a negotiated exit is not achievable, an attempt by ARU to terminate the Rebels Participation Deed without cause would constitute an unlawful termination.
Legal risk: Low
There is no legal obligation to retain the Western Force in the Super Rugby competition following a renegotiation of the broadcast contracts.
If the broadcast contracts are renegotiated with effect from the end of the 2017 Super Rugby season, the Alliance Agreement will automatically terminate at the end of the 2017 season, and the obligation on ARU to maintain the Western Force as a Super Rugby team in Perth will lapse at that point.
And when it has all finally been settled there is little chance of a Super15 being much better than last year’s structure – there will still be weak conferences and unfair advantage for some teams.
Bring back Super 12 format or go with Sean Fitzpatrick’s idea of two divisions with promotion and relegation.
What a shambles!