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SBD Global/August 18, 2017/Franchises

Nick Farr-Jones Calls For Super Rugby Side Western Force To Merge With Sunwolves

Former Australian rugby captain Nick Farr-Jones has emerged as Super Rugby side Western Force's "white knight" in its negotiations with the Sunwolves of Japan, "arguing that both franchises would benefit from a merger," according to Wayne Smith of THE AUSTRALIAN. As the Australian Rugby Union "turns the screws on the Force and was only stopped from shutting them down by the Perth franchise's legal action next Wednesday" in the NSW Supreme Court, Farr-Jones "has worked to keep the club's options open." He said, "I think from the Force's perspective, you've got to look at every opportunity, every option. First prize is clearly to remain in the competition which the team, the management, their supporters and sponsors are desperately keen to happen. But you have to look at all options." Farr-Jones "had raised with the ARU the possibility of exploring the Japanese rugby situation and a possible merger" with the Sunwolves, whose own place in Super Rugby has been "put under threat" a number of times by SANZAAR because of "sustained poor performance over their two years in the competition." He said, "I knew they (the ARU) were looking at the potential merger of the Brumbies and the Rebels but for various reasons that didn't go ahead. But I said, 'Have you given this some thought?' Because it might get you out of your dilemma and you might find that Japanese rugby would be very open to it." If the alternative "is oblivion, then the Force might well see the benefits of merging their roster" in the short term with the Sunwolves, "especially since the Japanese side is slated to be competing in the Australian conference next season." The Japanese "are under intense pressure to lift their game," not only to keep SANZAAR "at bay" but also to "improve the standard of Cherry Blossom rugby" ahead of hosting the 2019 World Cup (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/18).
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