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By ARU Media Unit
Click here to view the supporting document to this statement
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) welcomes today’s decision in the NSW Supreme Court, which provides legal certainty to all stakeholders.
ARU will contact the individuals affected by this decision to continue to offer support, including players and staff of the Western Force.
Throughout its process to reduce one Super Rugby team ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season, ARU has been restricted from providing certain information while it has been subject to court action.
Some of this information related to the basis on which the decision was made to discontinue the Western Force Super Rugby licence.
During the process RugbyWA was provided several opportunities to provide its business case, right up until ARU’s call for this information on August 2, but had failed to provide any evidence-based representations upon which the Board could rely in reaching a final view on the future viability of the Western Force.
The Board’s decision was heavily deliberated. At its core was the need to recalibrate the ARU’s investment in the game to meet the needs of a shifting sports landscape and to support its strategy to “make Rugby a game for all”.
Rugby is being challenged, as are all sports in Australia, by increased competition for spectators, viewers and participants, especially amongst young Australians.
The future health of Rugby will be dependent upon the game’s ability to attract more young boys and girls into the sport as players, spectators and fans.
To meet this challenge, tough decisions have had to be made to ensure that community and development programs are adequately funded to support the growth of the game including schoolboys, junior and women’s Rugby.
As communicated at the beginning of this process, ARU has invested almost $28 million of unbudgeted, additional “support funding” to Super Rugby teams over the past five years, which has severely limited its capacity to fund these important areas of the game.
Australian Rugby had pushed hard to retain five teams for several years, but it had simply become too great of a burden on its resources.
The reduction of one team from Super Rugby will also address an alarming decline in Super Rugby team performance since 2006, which has directly impacted the bottom line of the National and State Unions.
Reducing one team will provide a greater choice of talent for Super Rugby teams, create more competition for positions within each team, improve roster depth at each team, and will positively impact the player market with greater competition for contracted positions.
The following supporting documentation sets out to provide a more detailed view of the considerations that informed the final decision of the ARU Board.
Notwithstanding today’s court decision, ARU is committed to keeping Rugby strong in the West and to provide a clear pathway to the elite level of the game in men’s and women’s Rugby for junior players in Western Australia.
ARU is also in active discussions with its State and Territory Member Unions about opportunities to provide Rugby content in Western Australia from the 2018 season.