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ARU confirms either Western Force or Melbourne Rebels will be cut from Super Rugby

ARU confirms either Western Force or Melbourne Rebels will be cut from Super Rugby
April 10, 2017

The Australian Rugby Union has confirmed that one of its Super Rugby franchises, either the Melbourne Rebels or Western Force, will be cut from the competition at the end of this season.

With SANZAAR announcing changes to the Super Rugby competition, Australian Rugby Union (ARU) Chief Exectuive Bill Pulver and Chairman Cameron Clynehave today announced that saying a final decision on the future of the clubs would be made "within 72 hours".

Clyne said the ARU had completed an "exhaustive analysis" on the Melbourne Rebels, ACT Brumbies and Western Force, advising that "after reviewing management's findings, the board made the decision to eliminate the Brumbies from the process and identified that consultation is required with both the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels to further understand their financial position."

With SANZAAR announcing that Super Rugby will revert to a 15-team, three-conference format in 2018, Clyne emphasised "it is important for me to clarify firstly that the decision to remove a Super Rugby team from Australia was a decision made by the ARU, not by SANZAAR.

“This outcome however was only made possible by a consensus vote by the four SANZAAR partners and has been a complex process involving the many stakeholders in the competition across the globe.

“This process was finally completed yesterday.

“We are also very grateful to our broadcast partner Fox Sports, which has been steadfast in its support of the ARU through this process and since the inception of Super Rugby in 1996.

“Super Rugby has placed an increasingly heavy burden on the ARU business in recent years and the acceleration of revenue declines in our Super Rugby businesses has placed the game under extreme financial pressure.

“The additional funding provided by the ARU to offset Super Rugby losses has severely limited our capacity to invest further in our grassroots and high performance areas such as player and coach development.”

Clyne said the decision on which Australian team to be removed for the 2018 season will be made after consultation with two teams, the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels.

He went on to add that in addition to revenue declines in Super Rugby, the changing global rugby marketplace has posed challenges for the southern hemisphere competition.

He went on “since the ARU expanded to five Super Rugby teams in 2010, the economy we operate in globally has changed dramatically.

“With the incentives on offer in Europe, the player exodus has been significant in Australia and indeed across our SANZAAR partners. Based on recent performance trends, it is evident that we do not currently have the playing depth in Australia to service five teams in Super Rugby.

“Performance declines by our teams since the expansion of Super Rugby has had a direct correlation with declines in revenue across their businesses.”

Clyne confirmed the ARU’s support for the restructured format for the 2018 season, concluding “we agree that the 18-team competition was unsustainable and that a return to a 15-team competition will provide a more engaging and overall improved product for fans.”

Image: Western Force agreed a $1.5 million sponsorship deal with Western Australian Government agency the Road Safety Commission as naming rights partner for the 2017 season. 

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