The ARU have finally put to bed the long running debate (sorry – debacle) about the Super Rugby cull and have announced that the Western Force will be chopped.
In a statement ARU Chairman, Cameron Clyne said: “The ARU Board has today made the decision to discontinue the Western Force as the Super Rugby competition reverts to fifteen teams for the 2018 season.
“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.”
Bill Pulver, CEO of the ARU resigned immediately after the announcement and whilst he did fall on his sword, he has achieved little else of credit during this unseemly episode.
The big question is how did the Rebels survive?
The Australian Conference was not great in 2017 – the Aussie teams lost all 26 games against NZ franchises.
However the Force came second in the conference with 26 points c.f. the Rebels pathetic total of 9.
It should be noted that the Force also fared better than the Reds and the Waratahs
The Rebels scored fewer points than even the Sunwolves and came bottom of the full standings.
The only reason must be that Melbourne is seen to be the heart of Australian sport – if that is the case then why are the Rebels not supported better or produced that many Wallabies?
Maybe the Force are well out of it – Super 15 will inevitably have similar problems to S18 – with a format that will bring criticism from the offset. Their players will look for more lucrative contracts in other Super Rugby franchises or in the NH.
In the end it will be the fans in WA that will suffer – and that’s a shame.