ARU stands firm on Super cull, as body count mounts
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The 'body count' is mounting as the ugly public spat between officials and the players' association escalates, but the Australian Rugby Union is standing firm.
ARU Chief Executive Officer Bill Pulver said they will go ahead with the plan to remove a Super Rugby team next season, despite the threats of legal proceedings.
Two high-profile executives, former Chief Operating Officer Rob Clarke and Chief Financial Officer Todd Day, have already departed the ARU in recent months.
Pulver has already said that he wouldn't be seeking re-appointment when is contract comes up in February.
And ARU Chairman Cameron Clyne suggested he may also fall on his sword should the four-team plan fail.
The ARU and the Western Force will start an arbitration hearing on Monday.
And just in case RugbyWA wins this battle, the Melbourne Rebels are gearing to protect their rights in the courts.
Force General Manager Mark Sinderberry has indicated they are also ready to head to court if they lose the arbitration battle - which will stretch the process out by weeks, or even months.
Pulver said the ARU would not stray off their path of looking for four teams for 2018.
"My position is unchanged in terms of the fact that we need to go to four teams," he said.
"Frankly, Australia doesn't have either the financial capability or the player depth to justify staying at five teams.
"That position has not changed."
Ross Xenos, chief executive of the Rugby Union Players' Association, this week fired another broadside at the bumbling ARU.
"All of that momentum [of the past few years] has been lost because of off-field dramas that have sucked the life out of the game for almost a year," he said.
"As the ARU doesn't appear to have arrowed its sights to only one of the teams, it appears their decision will be based on legal ability rather than any objective assessment of future potential.
"There is a very real possibility that Australia will continue with five teams. For the 100-odd days that have passed since the ARU made its announcement, there is no clarity on how any prospective savings will be allocated and how this culling will help the whole of the game."
Sources: rugby.com.au & Sydney Morning Heraldrugby.com.au & Sydney Morning Herald