Western Force to fight for future

Date published: April 10 2017

RugbyWA is to launch legal action to stop the Australian Rugby Union from axing the Western Force from Super Rugby ahead of next season.

With it being confirmed that one Australian franchise will be cut from the 2018 competition, the Force and Melbourne Rebels are in the firing line.

According to Fairfax Media it appears that the Force are more likely to be axed, leaving Perth-based independent director Geoff Stooke unhappy.

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

"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."

Stooke, who was alone in voting that no team should be scrapped, told The Sydney Morning Herald: "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."

Legal action against the ARU could come from the Rebels too should they be the franchise cut from competition instead of the Force, with Rebels owner Andrew Cox also threatening to sue following the recent uncertainty.

"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."

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