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Thread: Western Force Appeal Dismissed

  1. #166
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    Wayne smith article in the oz
    WAYNE SMITH
    Senior sport writerBrisbane
    @WayneKeithSmith

    It was, somehow, predetermined, that in the very week Australian rugby wanted Perth to be all aglow with rugby fervour for the Test against the Springboks on Saturday, it is instead smouldering with rage at the innocent death of the Western Force.

    The process of arriving at this decision to axe the Western Force from Super Rugby had taken 148 carefully counted days since ARU chairman Cameron Clyne had set the clock ticking by announcing that it would all be done speedily, taking no more than 48-72 hours.

    All the legitimacy in the ARU’s position — that the game would be imperilled by continuing to stick with five teams — has gradually unravelled as the gruesome process wound its way down to Decision Day. The two heartland states, NSW and Queensland, were excused from the draw to select the short straw. One by one, the remaining contenders, the Brumbies, then the Rebels were eliminated from the gruesome ballot until only one team remained.

    Seemingly the only people not aware that the wrong decision has been made, that the Force, of all teams, had something worth preserving, are the ARU directors. And even they sheepishly look the other way when asked why they did it.

    Even yesterday, the ARU pushed forward the number of $28 million in unbudgeted expenses it had been forced to pay out to keep five teams afloat, somehow not realising how ridiculous it made them look. Just under $20 million was paid to keep another team alive. It doesn’t matter which one. But it wasn’t the Force.

    It was this financial crisis that sparked the move to eliminate one club — and yet what did the ARU do? It eliminated the best-resourced rugby club in the history of *Australia.

    All manner of reasons were presented on behalf of the club, reasons which should have had resonance and meaning to the ARU. Things like growth, participation numbers, the number of locally produced players in the Super Rugby side ... they all showed that the Force, amazingly, was running third behind the supposed giants, the Waratahs and the Reds. But it did them no good.

    Wallabies coach Michael Cheika who — if you drill down deeply enough beneath the surface crust of stubble and the intimidating bear-like physique — is actually a surprisingly sensitive soul, found himself in the impossible position yesterday of being asked to say something meaningful about the Force’s demise. Yet he didn’t make a bad stab at it.

    “It’s difficult to say anything that’s definitive, that can wrap up all the complexities, the personal emotions, the business realities, all the different reasons for all the different people,” he began. “It’s a difficult time. The one thing we can do, without taking away anything from the sadness that is being felt here, is to go out and show how much we want to play for West Australians and for the (local) lads inside the team who are in the Wallabies as well.”

    It’s hard to say how West Australians will respond on Saturday. Ironically, the Perth Test was tracking well in terms of expected attendances — certainly better on a per capita than the recent All Blacks Test in Sydney — but that was before the death sentence was handed down. Now the people of the West are torn. On one hand they loathe the thought of giving the ARU a cent of their hard-earned money; on the other, they want to stick it to men and women who made this hideous decision by flooding nib Stadium with a king tide of Force blue.

    Into this utterly insane situation has arrived the man who was once Australia’s richest billionaire but has now backtracked to merely sixth wealthiest with “only” $6.84bn, a man who developed his love of rugby while playing hooker for the First XV at Hale School in Perth. Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.

    Forrest had been a dedicated Force fan from the moment the club was formed in 2006, attending every single match in the early years with his wife Nicola and children. He is the sort of man who cares deeply for the things he loves — witness the fact that he literally bought back his family’s property, Minderoo Station — so the expectation was that when his club ran into trouble, he would simply write them a cheque. But he held his fire and the ARU has asked, almost accusingly, why he left it so late to come to their aid. His reason is simple: only when he suspected the Force was being set up did he intervene.

    When the Force was sinking beneath the waves yesterday, he was the one who reached down and dragged them back to the surface, announcing his intention to set up a rival competition to Super Rugby. It was an audacious, almost brazen announcement but still one that has quickly galvanised every disgruntled group in Australian rugby, of which there are plenty.

    The ARU were dismissive of his announcement, deigning not even to discuss it during their board meeting yesterday but curiously Cheika was anything but contemptuous of it.

    “It’s a bit of a stretch to be thinking of those things,” he said, when asked of Forrest’s plans to set up a six-team competition.

    “But you never say never. Powerful men. They can make things happen. You only have to look at World Series Cricket and Super League and the way that professional rugby started as well. They were the plans of one person.”

    If the ARU is as blasé about Forrest as its public utterances would suggest, then it is fair to say that it still has its wooden ear firmly in place. Forrest has laid down a challenge to the national body. Indeed, as former ARU chief executive John O’Neill observed yesterday, it’s not just Australia that should be concerned. “That’s why the New Zealand Rugby Union would be silly to sit back and look at what’s happening here with any smugness.

    “It’s a bit of a buzz word these days to talk about disruption. At a minimum, Twiggy can be a very significant disrupter. You’ll get lots of comments saying that this competition won’t fly, where is he going to get the teams from …. well, I’m not sure yet, but I wouldn’t dismiss him for a moment.”

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  2. #167
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    Wayne smith article #2--has written 3 very sympathetic articles in tonight's Oz.the photos heading this article of our htbroken team is gut wrenching
    If it is of any consolation to the Western Force, the Perth club might well have been doomed even had it won the appeal against its axing from Super Rugby.

    The Australian understand that SANZAAR, having grown weary of the corner into which the Australian Rugby Union had painted itself, had planned to release the 2018 Super Rugby draw last Friday — minus the Force — but was persuaded to hold back until Justice David Hammerschlag had handed down his decision yesterday in the NSW Supreme Court.

    All manner of solutions to the crisis were being proposed, none of which would have had the Force survive as a Super Rugby franchise.

    The most brutal had SANZAAR suspending Australia and then conducting its own “beauty pageant” to determine which of the five Australians teams would be culled. The *answer was predetermined: the only one without a Super Rugby licence would have to go, and that was the Force.

    Regardless of whether it was fortuitous from the ARU’s perspective that it had purchased the Force’s licence last year or whether, as Force backer Andrew Forrest suggested, the ARU “cunningly exploited” the Force’s financial crisis to trick them into giving up the *licence, it all came down to the fact they didn’t hold that necessary piece of paperwork.

    Each of the other four franchises, the NSW Waratahs, the Queensland Reds, the ACT Brumbies and the Melbourne Rebels, had signed a Participation Deed with the ARU that guaranteed their survival.

    The Force did not and while the ARU and its chairman Cameron Clyne can say they observed due process by *attempting to persuade the then Rebels owner, Andrew Cox, to sell to them, they had no power over him or the Melbourne club.

    Whatever the findings of the court, the ARU also was bound to obey the directions of its members, who had voted not once but twice to cut the Australian Super Rugby presence to four teams.

    The ARU released a statement late yesterday that RugbyWA was provided with several opportunities to provide its best business case, right up to August 2, but had failed to produce any evidence-based detail that could sway the decision in their favour. ‘The board’s decision was heavily deliberated,” the statement read.

    Forrest, however, disputed that account and said that on August 4, the Force had provided a full factual statement of its finances, including a commitment from himself to stand behind the club.

    “It was a pre-cooked decision being sold as a selection to eliminate a really wonderful team and a very financially backed club,” Forrest said yesterday.

    “Cameron Clyne is still clinging to that bit of driftwood as he slowly drowns in a sea of indecision. He made his choice on legal grounds alone back in February. And if he does not release the so-called selection criteria then I am looking forward to the senate inquiry making it public.”

    West Australian senator Linda Reynolds yesterday said she would move a motion in the Senate today seeking an inquiry into the future of rugby in Australia. The “ARU board deliberations leading up to the decision” heads the proposed terms of reference.

    Even as the clock ticked down to the decision in the NSW *Supreme Court, attempts were being made by ARU directors to try to find a compromise solution in which the Reds, Waratahs and Brumbies could have voluntarily surrendered one of their home games next season so it would have been possible for a merged Rebels-Force side to play about four home matches in each of Melbourne and Perth.

    But the best efforts of the board members to keep Super Rugby alive in Perth broke down.

    It was all too little, too late and the grief was etched all over Matt Hodgson’s face as the last Force captain addressed the media yesterday. He urged West Australians to support the Wallabies Test on Saturday against the Springboks, though he asked them to turn out in the blue jerseys of the Force. “Or perhaps black.”

    He wanted to know why no ARU officials had bothered coming to Perth to explain why they had cut the one club that had defied all the gloom that has surrounded Australian rugby this season. “I’m available on Friday night,” he said.

    Clyne said he would be happy to present the ARU’s reasons to Hodgson at a mutually convenient time.

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  3. #168
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    I was ready to give Smith a spray yesterday, but, for now at least, I'll keep my powder dry...

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    sigh.

    I just want to have some kiwi competition in whatever is new. they are the standard, and the cross Tasman rivalry is legendary.

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  5. #170
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    Quote Originally Posted by palitu View Post
    sigh.

    I just want to have some kiwi competition in whatever is new. they are the standard, and the cross Tasman rivalry is legendary.
    Give it time. "If you build it, they will come"

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  6. #171
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    One of the better podcasts from G&GR with feedback from lawyer Paul Jurdeczka (blogger Pablo who often provides words of reason during discussions). Brett McKay also a very credible contributor.

    Pablo in G&GR Podcast 270
    throws some light on the problems with the wording of the Alliance Agreement and the very narrow grounds of the initial arbitration.

    Worth a listen.

    Plse don't get me going on Hugh Cavill's contribution.

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Question for Hans and John - was the current wording of Term 2.4 in the Alliance Agreement (the one about the expiry date) there from the first draft or was it put in there by the ARU at some point during the to-ing and fro-ing as the contract was being drawn up?

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    That's a very interesting podcast Andrew. Made it sound like our camp was too trusting of the ARU and did not treat their side of the bargain with sufficenit suspicion. Did they pull the wool over our eyes? Were they wolves dressed in very sweet sheep's clothing? Which leads to the question, did they negotiate that agreement in good faith and is there any way to test THAT through the courts?

    Don't think there is any point at all in going to the court of appeal on the Alliance Agreement as that all seems pretty clear cut even to my non-lawyerly eyes.

    Much food for thought here still.

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  9. #174
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    Did they negotiate with RugbyWA in good faith, or did they set us up?

    Looks at lot like the latter at the moment Alison

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  10. #175
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    I am rapidly coming to the conclusion/realisation that, despite short term pain, we are better off as far away from that festering cluster of narcissistic inhumanity as possible!
    Roll on #indopacificXV

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  11. #176
    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quick summary of that podcast. WA's lawyers were outsmarted by the clauses added into the agreement. Then, according to the appeal judge, shot themselves in the foot all over again by appealing on such a narrow basis. The ARU could have released their modelling back in April - but the figures are still very suspicious and don't count in Forrest's financial offers. (Wayne Smiht's latest article gives some clues as to why that may have been.) The ARU are still being untruthful about how they dealt with RugbyWA and everyone can see it. But whatever way they went, the ARU would still be in the financial shit so we better just get on with things, no matter how rotten the process was, and see where we end up in 20-20 when Super Rugby will be dead and buried. Hard to argue with any of that.

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  12. #177
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewg View Post
    ...Plse don't get me going on Hugh Cavill's contribution.
    Wow! Superman on a podcast

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  13. #178
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    I'm coming to the realisation that I wouldn't want the Force in Super Rugby anymore.

    But I would still like to see the entire ARU pay for this.

    I would suggest that significant compensation is required.

    I would suggest that the complete dismantling of the organisation is not taking it too far.

    I would suggest jail terms wil not completely dissolve my anger.

    I want to see them hurt.

    I want to burn my Wallabies paraphernalia because the meaning behind it has been tainted.

    SANZAaR and World Rugby have failed completely in supporting the weak partner in their midst, that is completely foreign to the values upon which Rugby used to be built. Where is the concept of striving together as a team to overcome? Where is the honour? Where is the truth?

    This decision isn't rugby, and it is deserving of the perpetrators of this great injustice to be banished from the annals of Rugby Union permanently.

    And if one other Sydney wanker suggests that Twiggy Forrest can't set up a competition with $50 Million dollars I think I'm going to puke, If Twiggy feels anything close to the emotion that I feel at this moment he will bankrupt himself to see justice.

    Hows 6 BILLION suit you useless arseholes.

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    C'mon the

  14. #179
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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post

    I want to see them hurt.

    I want to burn my Wallabies paraphernalia ....
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  15. #180
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    Of course anyone can now see the entire scenario is complete misinformation and bullshit

    There is no way the ARU can suddenly realise they are in such financial peril as posited in their spurious document. Are they driving blind at the wheel?

    They had to have known years ago they had to cut a Super team or go under. They KNEW they were fucked before signing the alliance agreement in mid 2016, they KNEW they had to cut a team then (already whispers in the press), they KNEW they wanted to cut a team when seeking legal advice in late 2016 (less than six months after signing the agreement, as Willy Pulver was sprouting nonsense about a national fottprint etc), they KNEW The only team they could cut was the Force, and ONLY if they renegotiated the broadcast contract in Feb 2017. So the various SANZAAR meetings, especially London in March 2017, was a fait acompli. Everything else is smoke and mirrors. All this while spending $10m extra on the Rebels from 2015.

    These guys are still lying and duplicitous. Super Rugby is a dead man walking, the Saffers will go in 2020. Kiwis are then fucked, stuck in Robinson Crusoe timezone. So are the Argies, their pros will head back to Europe.

    All because the self serving wankers in QRU and NSWRU can't get over their small dicks.

    Hard as it is we are better off leaving them now, they are heading for oblivion. I hope that RugbyWA has the balls to leave the Australian Union, why be a member of that Trainwreck, giving them membership dues, for what? Scraps for "grassroots". Save that money, spend it in WA.

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