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Thread: Western Force launch legal action in fight over Super Rugby future

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    Player blindsid3's Avatar
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    Western Force launch legal action in fight over Super Rugby future

    West Australian rugby has dramatically stepped up its fight to save the Western Force, launching legal action to stop the Australian Rugby Union axing the Perth franchise from Super Rugby next year.

    RugbyWA representatives served the ARU with a writ during a three-and-a-half hour meeting in Perth on Monday afternoon, notifying the national union of their intention to take out an injunction against the ARU's plans to revoke the Western Force's Super Rugby licence.

    In an nightmare scenario for the ARU, it now faces legal action from two constituents just 24 hours after the board voted eight to one in favour of cutting Australia's professional footprint from five teams to four. Melbourne Rebels owner Andrew Cox is also threatening to sue for damages after his team was floated as the second potential team in the firing line.

    The dramatic escalation came as the lone voice of dissent on the ARU board broke ranks to express concerns over the process to decide which team is axed from Super Rugby as both the Force and Rebels mull legal action to block their removal.

    Perth-based independent director Geoff Stooke was the only one of nine ARU directors to vote against the governing body's proposal to cut a Super Rugby team on Sunday, a move chairman Cameron Clyne said was necessary to stem a $28 million cost blowout over the past four years and ensure the survival of the sport in Australia.

    With the Brumbies out of danger, Fairfax Media understands it is the strong preference of the ARU that the Force fold over the Rebels. Nevertheless, the ARU has committed to a period of "consultation" with both clubs over the next two to three days, with chief operating officer Rob Clarke and chief financial officer Todd Day flying to Perth on Monday and ARU chief executive Bill Pulver flying to Melbourne on Wednesday to meet Rebels owner Andrew Cox.

    Arriving at ARU headquarters in St Leonards ahead of a second board meeting on Monday morning, Stooke told Fairfax Media he was "uncomfortable" with the way the ARU was going about choosing which club would go.

    "I sat in on the board meeting so I have some insights there and in my view I'm not totally comfortable with the process, no," he said.

    "I'm not suggesting a lack of integrity in it but I'm not comfortable. Still, there's no final decision at this point of time so we'll see what comes out of it."

    Meanwhile, Fairfax Media understands both the Rebels and Force were on Monday examining all options available to them, including legal action to stop the ARU revoking their franchise licences.

    In the Force's case the matter is complicated by the ARU's friendly takeover of the franchise last year, which cost the governing body $4.8 million. The so-called "alliance agreement" reached last June saw all Force players and professional staff become ARU employees, while RugbyWA continued to run the community game and the Future Force development program. It is understood the terms of the agreement included a clause guaranteeing the Force's Super Rugby participation until the end of 2020, and it is this line the RugbyWA board was examining on Monday afternoon.

    In the case of the Rebels, Fairfax Media understands a furious Cox will almost certainly seek compensation for damage done to the business during this month-long period of speculation about the club's future.

    Under the terms of the private equity deal struck between Cox and the ARU in 2015, which saw Cox take over the club's liabilities, the governing body is paying the Rebels more than $6 million over five years, starting with $2.6 million in 2016 and tapering off to a six-figure sum in 2020. Fairfax Media understands senior ARU executives had given assurances to the Rebels they were not in the firing line as part of the ARU review, which is why Cox was incredulous to learn they were still a 50 per cent chance of being dumped.

    "The whole process has been incredibly badly managed by SANZAAR and the ARU and this has clearly impacted the Force, the Rebels, and the Brumbies financially," Cox said. "I don't think anyone involved with either of those governing bodies could or should be proud of this whole process or the impact it is having on Australian rugby.

    "We will reserve all our rights in this matter and await the final decision of the ARU board before we consider any further steps."

    Force chief executive Mark Sinderberry – technically an ARU employee – put on a brave face but rejected the "48-72-hour" time frame put on the decision by Clyne.

    "In my mind there's not an immediate time frame, so I don't think that's realistic at all," Sinderberry said. "I think it's going to be one of those ones that is going to take as long as it's going to take. A quick decision is a better decision but we've also got to make sure the right decision is made."

    Stooke stressed that his vote for five teams meant he did not believe the Rebels should fold either, but he warned that rugby would never recover in WA should Perth lose its professional team.

    "Participation is up 25 per cent since we started. At a club level, Western Australia has 2500 more grade players. [The Force] have 12 guys on contract from local rugby, of which 10 have been in the Force's starting 23, which is really what we wanted to achieve when the competition expanded in 2006. We're finally starting to see guys coming through the system, and they're not as reliant as they were on getting guys from the eastern states.

    "To stop it now to me would be a disaster. The game will never recover if a team goes from the west."

    http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/un...10-gvhn41.html

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    Champion eleypinkbit's Avatar
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    Wow, the ARU are really in deep doodoo now!

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    Champion valzc's Avatar
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    Yeehah, we've come out with guns blazing!! Good on you Sinders, hope the lawyers burn'em! ARU Board thought they could get away with another f**n dodgy deal so hopefully it's going to backfire!

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    Champion valzc's Avatar
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    Can Twiggy Forrest spare a couple of Mega Lawyers to help out as well! ARU SANZAR need to get full barrels right up 'em!

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Note, pulver goes to Melbourne and two ARU hatchet men to Perth. Given billy's recent evidence with making and announcing tough decisions who thinks he's on a plane to tell the rabble that they're ok?

    I hope lavas have some bloody pitfalls arguing the case for compensation, because we need to be able to bankrupt the code to keep our team.

    Perhaps bankruptcy would be the best thing for it. The government could step in and appoint a board who actually serve the interests of all of Australia, not just the bits east of Penrith.

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    C'mon the

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Is it a coincidence that what the ESRU paid to take over the Force is pretty much what Cox is asking? If not I'll review my opposition to using OUR share subscriptions to buy the licence. Providing we also get the top_ups until until 2022'

    Also - Great to see Geoff Stooke showing his colours. Now who was the high-profile board member who abstained?

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    Dangerous waters to tread, I'm not lawyer but correct me if I'm wrong RugbyWA will have to cough up both sides legal fees if the case were to be unsuccessful?

    Edit: So the ARU takeover guaranteed the Force participation until 2020?

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    Rookie OzFUB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    Dangerous waters to tread, I'm not lawyer but correct me if I'm wrong RugbyWA will have to cough up both sides legal fees if the case were to be unsuccessful?

    Edit: So the ARU takeover guaranteed the Force participation until 2020?
    If we lose there will be no club left anyway and rugby in WA will enter a death spiral

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    We WILL NOT go quietly in to the night!

    Up yours Pulver you spineless moron!!!!

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    Great game, Fucken battled right through to the 80!

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    Senior Player Herbasimplex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    Dangerous waters to tread, I'm not lawyer but correct me if I'm wrong RugbyWA will have to cough up both sides legal fees if the case were to be unsuccessful?

    Edit: So the ARU takeover guaranteed the Force participation until 2020?
    Yeah costs normally follow the event. But securing a costs order and obtaining your costs are two entirely different kettles of fish. Good luck ARU in getting money out of an entity (part of themselves) they killed and who they said never made any money in any event.

    Impossible to imagine that the ARU would not take the path of least resistance and bone us. Impossible to believe now that forcing us into the 'sale' of IP etc was all part of the ARU's long term 'vision' to make us go away.

    Fully supportive of the club's decision to litigate. We have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Hope the blowtorch is applied to the ARU, their shoddy and inept administration examined under the microscope & they be made accountable for their decision making.

    If we go down, i'm happy to go down fighting. Scorch the f$cking earth.

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    Last edited by Herbasimplex; 10-04-17 at 20:34.
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    Champion Contributor sandgroperrugby's Avatar
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    Thanks Geoff.

    As said what has RWA got to lose long term of there is no Force then it will impact all levels of participation in the state.

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    Player blindsid3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    Dangerous waters to tread, I'm not lawyer but correct me if I'm wrong RugbyWA will have to cough up both sides legal fees if the case were to be unsuccessful?

    Edit: So the ARU takeover guaranteed the Force participation until 2020?
    Mark McGowan has indicated that the people of WA want a return on their $100 million investment in Rugby and that the WA Govt will be supporting the force to the full extent of the law.

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    Yes!! So great to read all this! Not the push over I think they thought it would be.. a big thumbs up to everyone supporting us..

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    Rookie Leo86's Avatar
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    Agreed. Good to see our board has spine. Keep it up sea of blue.

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    Last edited by Leo86; 10-04-17 at 18:29. Reason: Spelling

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    All, this is what I was suggesting in my post the other day. No prisoners! All out thermonuclear retaliation.

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