ARU boss Bill Pulver says he will resign at emergency meeting if necessary
Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver says he will resign immediately from his position at Tuesday's emergency general meeting (EGM) if everyone in the room agrees he is no longer the right man for the job.
But Pulver has questioned whether an EGM is really necessary, labelling one of the resolutions put forward as "nonsense" and adding that if people wanted him gone, there were other ways to go about it.
Pressure has been mounting on Pulver and the ARU following the announcement in April that a Super Rugby team would be cut, saying at the time a decision would be made within 72 hours.
By Tuesday, it will be exactly 72 days since it became clear an Australian team would be folded. It is this uncertainty that has angered clubs, administrators and fans alike.
The Rugby Union Players' Association and Victorian Rugby Union last month called for an EGM to discuss the process of cutting a team, which will go ahead at ARU headquarters on Tuesday afternoon.
Regarding his position as chief executive, Pulver said he would step down if necessary and revealed, in any event, this would be his last job in sports administration.
"If everyone in the room stood up on Tuesday and said, 'Bill, we think it's time for change now', I will step down immediately," Pulver said. "It's not an issue of anyone having to push me out.
"If the members of Australian rugby felt the game would be better suited with me gone, they don't need to call an EGM. Technically, they can't do that [put forward a vote of no confidence in the board] because it would have to be a resolution they brought before the EGM with 21 days notice. That's not something I fear.
"I will do one sports administration job in my life and it's this one. I didn't do one before and I won't do one again. I'm here for the good of the game. If and when it's time for me to leave, I will leave quite happily."
Pressed on whether he felt the board had full support in him, Pulver replied: "Ask them. Don't ask me for reviews."
Pulver also took aim at a report on the weekend suggesting there was a chance he would leave his position before the EGM.
"Claims I was going to walk in and step down on Monday are just not true," Pulver said. "We've got some issues we're trying to deal with obviously in relation to Super Rugby and that's where my focus is. I haven't even spoken to my board about my future."
There are three resolutions for Tuesday's meeting, with the first two relating to the ARU reconsidering its pledge to remove a Super Rugby team.
"The feedback I have from virtually every state is they agree that we need to go from five to four," Pulver said. "Most people who understand the game appreciate that we need to go from five to four."
The other resolution relates to the discussion of a Super Rugby Commission, that would act as an advisory body to the ARU.
Pulver said he could not understand why such an issue was on the table now.
"Why you need an EGM resolution to have that conversation is beyond me. It's a nonsense issue," Pulver said. "I'm happy to have that discussion at any time. The EGM, while it's a conversation I'm looking forward to having, I don't think the three resolutions are that critical."
There will be a pall hanging over the EGM following the Wallabies' 24-19 loss to Scotland on the weekend in yet another low moment for the code in Australia.
Scotland have beaten the Wallabies just three times in 35 years and look set to leapfrog Australia on the world rankings for the first time.
Before Saturday's match in Sydney, Australia were third on the rankings but when World Rugby releases the new standings on Monday, Michael Cheika's side could fall to as low as sixth in the world.
It would be Australia's equal lowest ranking since the system was introduced in 2003. In early 2015, the Wallabies were ranked sixth but managed to go up from there by making a World Cup final.
Poor Wallabies results and thee average form of Australian Super Rugby clubs over the last two seasons has put rugby is a very negative night, Pulver concedes.
"It's been a tough year for us all in rugby," Pulver said. "Our results on the paddock haven't been what we would have liked. If we play good rugby and we are successful, the fans will be there. I admire everybody's resilience and we're getting on trying to deal with the issues we have to deal with."
Pulver refused to provide an update on the axing of a Super Rugby club but said he understood the frustrations of everyone involved.
"I am in multiple discussions at the moment which I am not at liberty to discuss," Pulver said. "I am in the process of reducing five teams to four teams in Super Rugby and if my team were threatened, I'd be reacting the same way. I understand that. It's just a difficult issue we have to get through. We've got to establish a willingness to confront the issues that are affecting this game."
- Sydney Morning Herald