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Forrest prepares injunction, says ARU “famous for bleeding money”

By Justin Chadwick,

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107 Have your say

    Billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest says he will have no qualms about taking the ARU through a costly legal battle, saying the governing body is famous for “bleeding money”.

    Forrest’s legal team are in the process of taking out an injunction against the ARU’s decision to axe the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition.

    If the Forrest-backed RugbyWA win a right of appeal, they will take the matter to the Supreme Court.

    The ARU are already struggling financially, and they could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if they are defeated in court.

    Forrest said he couldn’t fathom how the ARU could axe the Force instead of the Rebels.

    The Rebels have reportedly lost about $30 million over their seven-year existence, costing the ARU approximately $17.5 million dollars.

    The ARU claim finances were the primary reason behind their decision to axe the Force.

    But Forrest says this can’t be true, because he had already told the ARU he would bankroll any potential future losses at the Force.

    This means, at worst, the Force would always break even.

    Forrest said the ARU’s decision to introduce a team into AFL heartland was doomed from the start.

    And he has no qualms about taking the ARU to court in order to achieve the outcome that he believes is the best for Australian rugby.

    “I think the ARU has been famous at bleeding money,” Forrest said.

    “They’ve been propping up Victoria for so many millions of dollars of losses.

    “They’ve had this vain pursuit that they can challenge the AFL in AFL’s heartland.

    “That was never going to happen. Melbourne people love the AFL, and I agree with that love – it’s a fantastic sport.

    “But our love is for rugby. And to try to impose it upon Victoria was just an ego-driven decision.

    “And to not encourage it in WA where the people of this state have a great love for this sport and the Force, is really a retrograde decision against the Force.”

    Forrest has called for a complete overhaul of the ARU board.

    He choked back tears as he talked about how proud he was to see the groundswell of support the Force has received.

    “It just makes me super proud of Western Australia, super proud of my countrymen here,” Forrest said.

    “I deeply regret that as an Australian, there’s an administration of a sporting code which has made a really dumb decision.

    “But it has empowered West Australians to stand together.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (107)

    • August 13th 2017 @ 9:29am
      wag said | August 13th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Good on you, Andrew Forrest !
      Best of luck to the Western Force!
      Many Queenslanders back you to reverse this unbelievably stupid decision!

      Perth is the one place in Aust. where Rugby is actually growing !
      They are now producing their own quality players including Wallabies!
      Having got rid of Mitchell, Foley & Graham, and replacing them with Wessels and his team, they now play a much
      more entertaining brand of Rugby!
      The only thrashing that they received this year was after their “round-the-world” tour of South Africa & Argentina — (poorly scheduled by SAANZAR !)
      They have a huge Junior nursery!
      With Forrest on Board, as well as other sponsors and passionate supporters “Backing the Force” they have no financial worries!
      Their supporters are the most loyal and passionate in Australia !
      On a % population basis, they are the best supported province in Australia !
      And Perth makes a great stopping-off point to play matches against the Force for other teams on the way to and from South Africa !

      GO THE FORCE ! The majority of Aussie Rugby supporters (apart from the snob element !) seem to be well behind you !

      • August 13th 2017 @ 11:49am
        Ex force fan said | August 13th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Couldn’t agree more. Why does the ERU refuse to see this?

        The decision was made, the circumstances change however the ERU could not revisit their assumptions as they backed themselves into a corner and had to cut the Force as they couldn’t cut any other team. What a farce, the Board needs to take responsibility and resign immediately!

    • August 13th 2017 @ 10:44am
      Muglair said | August 13th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

      Sounds plausible and Forrest’s interest appears genuine. Unfortunate for the ARU as he has deep pockets and is an experienced litigant. He will have good advice and I assume he believes he has some solid grounds. If so, it will be boys against men for the ARU who at best are under resourced and, at worst, the resources are not that good.

      In the defence of the ARU they were probably in a weak position negotiating with SAANZAR, and in a weak position in Australia to enforce SAANZAR’s decision. Nothing changed in NZ, Argentina or Japan. In SA it seems the SARU has substantially more authority, possibly with support from the government. Plus, the Europe option is potentially upside for the excluded clubs and in the long term, SA rugby.

      It would be interesting to know if the ARU had attempted to argue at SAANZAR that it would be legally difficult for them to cut a team (which they surely must have anticipated, otherwise we have all underestimated the sheer scope of their stupidity). Ultimately SAANZAR owns the decision and they are going to have to start to own the consequences. Could lengthy legal delays in Australia force a 16 team competition? They must be running out of time to schedule the 2018 competition.

      While that would be a short-term win for Australian Rugby the longer-term consequences could be less attractive unless the 5 surviving Australian teams dramatically lift their standards next season.

      I am a big supporter of having five teams but I think on-field results, attendance, financial performance and TV eyeballs barely justify 3 teams rather than 4 or 5. As abysmal as the ARU is, as pathetic as Pulver is, the responsibility for this situation lies with the SR clubs, coaches and players. Apart from Cheika’s Waratahs in 2014 and 2015 the last 5 years has seen our teams relatively unfit and uncompetitive against the NZ teams and the better SA teams. Despite all the criticism of the competition structure it would be far more interesting and attractive to us all if we were winning some games and there was a reason to pay attention. The 5 Australian clubs would then be a valuable SAANZAR asset, not lead in the saddlebags.

      We need to be careful of the delusion in Australian rugby that we can pursue a Trans-Tasman competition. While I agree it might be the best thing for Australian rugby, what scale of disasters would have to befall NZ rugby for them to consider it to be a good idea? Unless we can significantly increase our level of performance in 2018 and 2019 then we will not be part of anyone’s thinking. Going it alone in 2020 might be viable, but it will be essential that we can continue to drive standards that enable us to remain relevant internationally. This would fall to the ARU (new coaching structures), clubs and players, none of whom have demonstrated any ability to maintain, let alone improve standards, in recent years.

      • Roar Pro

        August 13th 2017 @ 11:32am
        ols said | August 13th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        “I am a big supporter of having five teams but I think on-field results, attendance, financial performance and TV eyeballs barely justify 3 teams rather than 4 or 5.”

        I think we will end up back with three teams when the Rebels bleed money again as I believe they will.
        It’s obvious that the ARU are not concerned about a national footprint.
        The ARU will again justify going back to three teams on financial reasons and we will be back where we were in 2004.

      • August 13th 2017 @ 12:37pm
        markie362 said | August 13th 2017 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

        Don’t forget South sydney were kicked out of the NFL and got back in via the court system

        • August 13th 2017 @ 9:31pm
          Dave from Mt Druitt said | August 13th 2017 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

          Any injunction is not going to affect the decision of SAANAAR to reduce the number of Australian teams in Super Rugby.

          Beside the performances of the teams this year have been pitiful and hardly support Australia having 5 teams in the competition.

          It is a sad reflection that the only way that a team was going to qualify for the playoffs was to win the Australian conference.

          So lets forget about the money issue. How about teams playing some decent rugby and being competitive.

          Then we may have a case for 5 teams. Until then…………….

          • Roar Pro

            August 13th 2017 @ 11:59pm
            Crazy Horse said | August 13th 2017 @ 11:59pm | ! Report

            Don’t rule out legal action against SANZAAR.

          • Roar Pro

            August 14th 2017 @ 12:04am
            Crazy Horse said | August 14th 2017 @ 12:04am | ! Report

            The Force were crippled by injury early in the season but once the full squad was back on deck were more than competitive in every match bar the 4th game in three weeks played in three different continents. Did you forget the absolute thrashing handed to the Tahs?

            • August 14th 2017 @ 8:58am
              Bakkies said | August 14th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

              I haven’t forgot the thrashing. It was more than hilarious than Badger’s hat trick against the same bunch of Sydney parasites.

    • August 13th 2017 @ 10:44am
      Adrian Denyer said | August 13th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

      • August 13th 2017 @ 11:54am
        Ex force fan said | August 13th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        Irrelevant to this conversation. Do not agree with him on that.

        • August 13th 2017 @ 1:41pm
          Train Without A Station said | August 13th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

          Well no it is.

          It’s relevant to the accuracy of his statements and the types of statements he is likely to make about those who oppose his view.

          It doesn’t mean his statement here is wrong no.

      • Roar Pro

        August 13th 2017 @ 3:13pm
        robel said | August 13th 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

        How about you read the actual article rather than look at the headline.

        The article is about the dire situation of aboriginal children in remote WA communities, an attempt to help them and reduce the abuse, and the inept response from CBD dwelling know alls.

        Some may think you are trying to discredit Twiggy’s genuine concern by only posting the headline in such a manner.

        Shame, though nothing less than expected from an ERU supporter.

        • August 13th 2017 @ 5:38pm
          Train Without A Station said | August 13th 2017 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

          This could be completely wrong but doesn’t Forrest have a stake in Indue, the company that would get $4k to $7k per person signed up per year?

          Unless Indue is a Not for Profit organisation then surely he has a financial stake in this?

      • Roar Rookie

        August 13th 2017 @ 6:06pm
        Kirky said | August 13th 2017 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

        Mr Denyer, this has absolutely nothing to do with rugby whatsoever, ~ it would pay you to do a bit of research on Western Australian Politics and problems in remote communities and the Greens Party particularly the one Lady member mentioned is nothing less than an obstructionist, and no matter what Twiggy Forrest does to help these people which is a lot, she and the Party knocks it ~ Mr Forrest is a passionate Western Australian Philanthropist who goes to great lengths in many ways mostly using his own money to benefit the Indigenous who he spends a great deal of his time toward even to the extent that he guarantees the WA Government he will create and employ these people in jobs in his own Companies and not just a few Indigenous people, it’s plenty!

        He has a big Ranch up in the Mid West of WA and his staff are Aboriginal predominantly, ~ Twiggy is a wonderful guy who has Australia at heart and Western Australia in particular, and he’s the type of guy that this country needs more of as he’s a self made Billionaire and puts his money where his mouth is, particularly where a problem close to his heart takes place, ~ The Western Force for example, he’s certainly not a silly guy as his business acumen is second to none else he wouldn’t be in the position he is!, ~ I wouldn’t write the Western Force off yet because now Forrest has his teeth into this unfair jack up he will I’m sure go to the end of the Earth to a successful conclusion if it can happen!

        • August 14th 2017 @ 8:52am
          Buk said | August 14th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

          Good post Kirky. Forrest needs to be commended for his passion to try to do things to better Australians.

    • August 13th 2017 @ 10:56am
      lobby said | August 13th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      The west Australian government has reportedly brought back paying the money for the bledisloe early. They don’t want to fill the EARU’s coffers to a tune of 4 million to use against us again.

      • August 13th 2017 @ 1:43pm
        DJW said | August 13th 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

        Yep, McGowan announced it today. Brilliant

      • August 13th 2017 @ 3:05pm
        Billy said | August 13th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

        He should have also cancelled the game and other future ARU matches.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 13th 2017 @ 6:09pm
          Kirky said | August 13th 2017 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

          Billy!, the problem with that is the previous Government coughed up a million bucks to keep the ARU happy in the interim then they got voted out!

          • August 13th 2017 @ 7:04pm
            Jacko said | August 13th 2017 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

            And the ARU paid Pocock $750K NOT TO PLAY THIS YEAR…..So Clever eh?

            • August 13th 2017 @ 7:39pm
              Train Without A Station said | August 13th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

              No. They have paid his contract across 3 years.

              Stop pushing this stupid agenda.

              Pocock is contracted at an amount that is less than market value for 2 playing seasons.

              • August 14th 2017 @ 7:03pm
                Zulu said | August 14th 2017 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

                Still a waste of money when he can’t play in his actual position when anointed people are around. More of an enticement to return really, but I’m sure you’ll have some ARU sychophant reply with one sided retorts.

    • August 13th 2017 @ 11:29am
      Garyowen said | August 13th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      Most articles blame Pulver only which is incorrect. He is the clerk who follows the board’s instruction and its the Chairman and his board who are responsible for the f..k up.

      • August 13th 2017 @ 11:45am
        Muglair said | August 13th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

        True, and some would say they are all hostage to the state unions anyway, especially NSW and Qld.

        But this is a leadership position and a salary attached presuming leadership capability.

        He should have realised he was out of his depth and left ages ago.

        • August 13th 2017 @ 1:54pm
          Train Without A Station said | August 13th 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report


          So we can hope somebody like John O’Neill will come in and make the game even more Sydney and Brisbane centric?

          Pulver was CEO while the ARU drove the implementation of the NRC, JGC, Super 20s and other initiatives that have vastly improved the pathways for vic and WA.

          Just because governance structure has made it unable for Pulver to make Australian Rugby perfect, it does not mean that somebody else would not have it much worse. Especially for those outside Brisbane and Sydney.

        • August 13th 2017 @ 7:09pm
          Jacko said | August 13th 2017 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

          Agree Twas, Pulver hardly totally to blame…O’neil left a mess and Pulver has at least done some positive things to turn that mess around. He is, as you say, a pawn of his board. BUT…Sorry the Board has clearly failed in the way this mess has been handled and Pulver sits above this mess so cant be entirely blameless

    • August 13th 2017 @ 11:32am
      Tooly said | August 13th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

      Not a good move by the Clowns at the ARU fighting a bloke who would have bankrolled a franchise and possibly
      encouraged wider support for Rugby .
      The Force are the new Brumbies a small local base picking up a few few South Africans who like to see home across the water and those who have been overlooked by Blazers in NSW and QLD .
      They were contenders and now we will see the real reason unfold as NSW pick up Coleman and the HPs .
      There are a lot of good players on the line and I hope that there is an injunction on poaching until Twiggy wins . When he does watch out there will be some reverse poaching . The Tut Tahs will be OK he will want real,players .

      • August 13th 2017 @ 1:55pm
        Train Without A Station said | August 13th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report


        They lose twice as many games as they won.

        • August 13th 2017 @ 5:39pm
          Train Without A Station said | August 13th 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

          Sorry. That’s incorrect. They lost 9 and won 6.

          • Roar Pro

            August 14th 2017 @ 12:10am
            Crazy Horse said | August 14th 2017 @ 12:10am | ! Report

            and quite a few of those 9 were by small margins.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 13th 2017 @ 6:21pm
          Kirky said | August 13th 2017 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

          TWAS, that’s the crux of the matter, those guys don’t have to go anywhere they don’t want and why would they, unless they were offered a ridiculously exorbitant contract go to the persistently losing teams like the Waratahs, Reds and certainly the Rebels!

          I hope they go out of Australia as they can’t get anywhere here and if they want a good game, ~ get out!

          They want to play for what was the best team in Australia the Western Force, and if all things fall the right way they very likely still might!

          • August 13th 2017 @ 6:52pm
            Muzzo said | August 13th 2017 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

            So with you on that Kirky Bro!! Cheers

          • August 13th 2017 @ 7:40pm
            Train Without A Station said | August 13th 2017 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

            Last year all of those teams were better than the force.

            You severely overrate one semi decent season.

        • August 13th 2017 @ 7:10pm
          Jacko said | August 13th 2017 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

          This year????? They beat NSW, QLD and the REBELS on the ladder

      • August 13th 2017 @ 3:10pm
        PiratesRugby said | August 13th 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

        I’m not sure Twiggy has as much money as you think he has. He came into the picture relatively recently. After the race was run. He talks tough about an injunction and he may well be serious. But there are costs associated with court action and any injunction requires an undertaking as to damages. Will he foot that bill? If he does, good on him. WA rugby has a great record at the grass roots level. The Force have been a good club and probably the second best Aussie club this year. Unfortunately I think Twiggy might not have the magical powers required to undo the decision of SANZAR and the ARU. No matter how much money Twiggy has.

        • August 13th 2017 @ 4:36pm
          Rugby Tragic said | August 13th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

          Well he and his wife have enough money to be able to donate $400 million to charity… I think he can fund any action, I think he could buy out the ARU’s balance sheet with his ‘spare change’ … He also has a history in ‘carrying through’ what he promises.

          However, what perplexes me is that going to arbitration, my understanding is that both sides ‘agree’ to accept the decision of the independent arbitrator without going to court. Unless there is in that agreement a right of appeal, I would have thought that an application for a High Court injunction would fail.

          Could someone with legal training explain or expand on this?

          • August 13th 2017 @ 4:50pm
            Billy said | August 13th 2017 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

            It was non-binding arbitration with the right to appeal. All arbitration was used to test a clause or part of the alliance agreement, which they unfortunately lost. Rugby WA have a load of rubbish that they can pursue further in the supreme court, such as unconscionable conduct under Trade Practices Act. To reopen the arbitration decision to legally test they would need a right to appeal from the supreme Court. I’m not a lawyer, but this will possibly end up like South Sydney legal action.

          • Roar Pro

            August 14th 2017 @ 12:12am
            Crazy Horse said | August 14th 2017 @ 12:12am | ! Report

            and at the same time gave The University of Western Australia $100 million.

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