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SBD Global/August 23, 2017/Franchises

Australian Rugby Union Rejects A$50M Offer To Save Western Force

The Australian Rugby Union rejected an offer of around A$50M ($40M) from billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest to "save the code and look after the financial burden of the Western Force," according to Tom Decent of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Forrest "was flanked" by former ARU Dir Geoff Stooke and "West Australia's first homegrown Wallaby," John Wellborn, at the meeting. The trio met with ARU Chair Cameron Clyne, Deputy Chair Brett Robinson as well as director and former Wallabies captain John Eales. During a three-hour meeting in Adelaide, Forrest told the ARU that "there would be no financial risk to the game's governing body" if the Force is able to continue in Super Rugby. Forrest reportedly put an offer of around A$50M on the table to the ARU to help it "out of financial trouble." The ARU rejected Forrest's offer at the meeting and "made it clear" the union is committed to cutting the Force. Clyne said, "We were genuinely appreciative of Andrew's generous offer to back the Western Force and Australian Rugby, however, given the position we are in, we are unable to work towards retaining five teams in Super Rugby." Although disappointed, Forrest said that "he was pleased the ARU outlined its commitment to working with the Force" to develop a new int'l competition based in Western Australia (SMH, 8/22).

ASIAN COMPETITION: The AAP reported the Western Force will "consider launching a new rugby union competition in Asia" if it cannot win its way back into Super Rugby ranks after the club was axed by the ARU earlier this month. RugbyWA will learn on Wednesday whether its appeal against the ARU’s decision to axe the Force "will be heard in the NSW Supreme Court." If not -- or if the appeal fails -- the Force "will be left with no other choice but to explore playing elsewhere." During the Force's supporter rally on Sunday, Forrest "threw up a curve ball" by saying that he would start his own int'l league if the Supreme Court appeal failed. Force CEO Mark Sinderberry said that the idea "had merit." Sinderberry: "This is a really exciting concept and picks up on some interesting rugby we're seeing in Asia. Certainly Twiggy's [Forrest] vision is one we'd be very excited to understand. It's an embryonic idea, but one worth exploring" (AAP, 8/21).
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