Sydney – Western Force players were on Wednesday facing a
tough decision on whether to abandon the former Super Rugby team or remain and
join a breakaway rebel league, as repercussions from the side’s axing
The Perth-based franchise were informed they were being
culled from Super Rugby last month and on Tuesday the NSW Supreme Court in
Sydney dismissed their appeal, leaving them in limbo.
Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, a
billionaire backer of the club’s parent body RugbyWA, has announced plans for a
rival Indo-Pacific competition, with six teams initially involved, including
“Speaking to the players on a private and confidential
basis, I know that some of them have expressed an interest in that
competition,” Rugby Union Players’ Association chief executive Ross Xenos
“It’s not necessarily a pipe dream. It’s something that
some of the players would support. This is a brave new world. There’s a bit of
risk-reward in that.”
But it would be a huge risk for Force players to remain
instead of joining another Super franchise in the hope that further legal
battles might see the club reinstated, or that the new league becomes reality.
It remains unclear whether the Australian Rugby Union would
sanction the new competition. If it does not, players would be ineligible to
play for the Wallabies.
In July, the Force had nine players named in an extended
Australia squad, headlined by Adam Coleman and Dane Haylett-Petty. Many have
reportedly already had offers from rival Super teams and overseas clubs.
Local reports said the new league was likely to have teams
from Japan, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and Australia, with Forrest also
encouraging South African clubs to look at his plans.
The Hong Kong Rugby Union said they would be open to the
possibility of getting involved.
“We’d be crazy not to look at it,” HKRU chief rugby
operation officer Dai Rees told the South China Morning Post.
Forrest, founder and chairperson of Fortescue Metals, plans to
kick off the competition with an international game “as soon as
SANZAAR, the governing body of Super Rugby, decided to
reduce the competition after the unwieldy four-conference 18-team model lost
favour with fans and led to a slump in television viewers. Two teams from South
Africa were also cut.
The fall-out continued on Wednesday with Western Australia
senator Linda Reynolds vowing to seek an inquiry into the Force’s axing in the
national Senate, looking at the ARU decision-making process and transparency
“We’ve heard variously that it was about money, about
the number of teams. If they’ve got nothing to hide, they’ve got nothing to
fear,” she told broadcaster ABC.
ARU chairperson Cameron Clyne has said the court vindicated the
decision to cut a team, arguing that maintaining five was not financially