Western Force still exploring options as Bob Dwyer slams 'catastrophic' decision

Former Australian coach Bob Dwyer says the decision to cut the Western force form Super Rugby is a huge mistake.

Former Australian coach Bob Dwyer says the decision to cut the Western force form Super Rugby is a huge mistake.

Former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer has slammed the Australian Rugby Union, saying its decision to cut the Western Force is a "catastrophe" and the biggest fiasco he has seen in the game.

The club is continuing to explore its legal options in the hope of survival.

Force chief executive Mark Sinderberry and his team spent Saturday with lawyers and the club is expected to make an announcement on Sunday evening that they will appeal the ARU's decision in the Supreme Court.

The Western Force fans will have to find a new team to follow after the side was axed from Super Rugby this week.

The Western Force fans will have to find a new team to follow after the side was axed from Super Rugby this week.

Rugby Western Australia is not sure how long it will take for the matter to come before the court, but Sinderberry guessed it would be in a "relatively short period of time".

* Aussie rugby on the brink
* ARU in search of a new leader


After one of the most stunning days in Australian rugby, there is still bitterness towards the ARU and its decision to axe the Force, which will all but kill rugby in the west.

"It's a catastrophe and whatever way you look at it, it's nothing short of a disaster for Australian rugby," Dwyer said. "In terms of player development, no team has done better than the Western Force. It's a massive blow.

"I've never seen a bigger fiasco in all my time in the game. This one takes the cake by a country mile in terms of its concept and its execution. How do they argue it was a good idea then [to add a team], but now it's a bad one?"

Rugby Union Players' Association chief executive Ross Xenos labelled the Force's ordeal as "death by a thousand knives" and questioned what would happen now.

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"What that timing looks like is just as uncertain as the entire saga," Xenos said. "We know the appeal is coming, so do people move on or do people wait to see whether the appeal is successful? How long could the appeal take? There's a whole heap of variables now that are playing on everyone's mind.

"Hopefully next week we'll have a better view of what the next steps look like. I feel so much for all the Western Force players."

Sinderberry, however, is confident there won't be a mass exodus of players just yet.

"I don't think people are going to jump ship next week and we've got a week to get a real understanding of what all the options are," Sinderberry said. "Talking to them, they feel like they've got a bit more time yet.

"I don't think there will be a mad rush. They want to stay."

The ARU has already begun searching for a new chief executive after Bill Pulver announced on Friday he would step down from the role once the organisation could find a suitable replacement.

Asked how people in the west felt about the timing of Pulver's resignation, Sinderberry said: "It stung on a number of levels. It was like, well, now it's time to get out. I was very surprised by it."

Dwyer, who has been a vocal critic of Pulver in recent times, went further, saying the man who took over the role in 2013 needed to leave the ARU immediately.

"Even though it's a horrendous decision for WA, some good has come out of it and that is Bill has resigned," Dwyer said. "The most satisfactory alterative we can possibly think of is for him to leave as soon as possible. Whatever happens after that can only be a step forward.

"How he would know anything about the pursuit of excellence or greatness, I'll never know. There is nothing that has come out of this that gives anyone any confidence that they know what they're doing, where they want to go and how to get there."

The ARU will need to replace director Geoffrey Stooke, who is also the Force's founding chairman, after he resigned with immediate effect on Friday.

The next ARU board meeting is scheduled for August 28 where a replacement will be nominated.

"My thoughts are with the people who will be impacted by this decision today," Stooke said in a statement on Saturday. "I wish them all the best in what I know is a difficult time. They may only be a 'desk top study' at St Leonards, but they are real people, they are many and they deserved so much better.

"The Australian Rugby Union is the custodian of the game of rugby in Australia, not simply the custodian of the business of rugby."

In the aftermath of the decision, mud was thrown by the Force at the Rebels, with billionaire and new backer Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest suggesting the Melbourne franchise should have been shown the door instead.

On Saturday, Forrest demanded a "complete overhaul of the [ARU] board".

In the end, the Force's ultimate demise was that they were the only team that the ARU could legally cut.

"There's a lot of raw emotion like that after a decision is made," Xenos said. "The ARU have tried to pit the Force and the Rebels together, so we can't really be surprised that key people on both sides are defending their patch because that is the way the ARU framed the battle."

Former Wallaby Tim Horan said it was a sad situation for the Force, but that he could understand the ARU's reasons behind the decision.

"It's a real shame but it probably had to happen at some stage to get the strength of Super Rugby back to four teams to finally beat some of these New Zealand teams," Horan said on Fox Sports.

 - SMH


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