Ex Western Force skipper Nathan Sharpe slams ARU decision to cull team
Former Western Force skipper Nathan Sharpe says the decision to axe the Perth club from the Super Rugby competition is the "biggest mistake" the Australian Rugby Union could have made.
The ARU announced on Friday that the Force rather than the Melbourne Rebels would be cut from the downsized 2018 competition, with chief executive Bill Pulver resigning from his position.
Sharpe, who was the foundation captain and spent seven seasons with the Force, slammed the decision and called for a clean-out of the ARU.
"The biggest mistake the ARU could have made - Time to clear the decks and start fresh," the ex-Wallabies lock tweeted.
READ MORE: Western Force culled from Super Rugby
Force hooker Heath Tessman, who previously played for the Rebels, described the ARU as "cowards" while Force utility back Jonno Lance tweeted he was "devastated".
Former Wallabies hooker Jeremy Paul, speaking on Fox Sports, said he believed Melbourne should have been cut.
"It's incredibly sad. I believe they got it wrong," Paul said.
"They got one thing right today ... Bill Pulver resigned (as ARU chief executive)."
The Rugby Union Players' Association described the axing as the "darkest day in the history of Australian Rugby".
The players' representative body was pushing for five Australian teams to continue in the competition.
"Today's is the darkest day in the history of Australian Rugby with the custodian of the game confirming their desire to end the tenure of the Western Force and abandoning the game's national footprint," said RUPA chief executive Ross Xenos in a statement.
He said RUPA would support players affected by the decision.
"RUPA will do whatever it takes to ensure that players' contractual rights are honoured and no player is unfairly disadvantaged by the ARU's decision."