The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) Board has today voted unanimously to support the Victorian Rugby Union (VRU) in requesting the convening of a special General Meeting of all Australian Rugby Union (ARU) Voting Members as soon as practicable.
RUPA’s support of the VRU request comes after months of protracted speculation regarding Australia's future in Super Rugby and is seeking that the ARU provide all Voting Members with a transparent, comprehensive update on the ARU's review process to date along with the financial implications of various rationalisation models. Moreover, the General Meeting will bring together key elected and appointed representatives from around the country to collectively determine the best course for the future of Rugby in Australia.
"The ARU’s intent to axe an Australian Super Rugby team has lacked transparency and consultation with key stakeholders. Today’s unanimous RUPA Board resolution illustrates the commitment of players from all across the country to take action towards a constructive solution to this ongoing fiasco,” said RUPA CEO, Ross Xenos.
“The ongoing uncertainty and secrecy of this process continues to do unprecedented damage to the reputation of the game and has placed unacceptable distress on players and their families.
"In every Australian team there are players and staff whose livelihoods and wellbeing have been compromised through this protracted process.
"If there is no clear way forward for Australian Rugby that provides the necessary cost savings to justify altering our current professional Rugby footprint in the middle of this broadcast cycle, then it’s about time we stopped uppercutting ourselves, backed the retention of five Super Rugby teams and got on with fighting our common enemies outside the tent."
Responding to reports that the ARU may seek to buy-back the Rebels license from private owners to then shut the franchise down, Xenos questioned the appropriateness of such mooted financial management.
"The most consistent narrative we hear from the ARU is about the financial challenges the game faces and how tough times are. Axing an Australian team and disenfranchising a Rugby community was justified five weeks ago by the ARU based on financial savings. Now, anywhere between six to ten million dollars promised to be invested into the game, including at the grassroots level, could be burned so that the ARU can cull a team and save face around the SANZAAR table.
"Why are we are cutting a team at all and limiting Australian Rugby’s future if there are such discretionary funds within the game that ARU can afford to buy a license, only to scrunch it up and throw it away?"
Today’s RUPA Board decision is consistent with RUPA’s vehement and public opposition to any reduction to the number of Australian
Super Rugby teams which began at first suggestions that the ARU might jettison a team. RUPA has presented various competition models to the ARU for consideration by SANZAAR which support the retention of all five teams.