The Roar
The Roar


Western Force win right to appeal axing

The fight to save the Force continues. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)
23rd August, 2017
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A NSW Supreme Court judge has granted the Western Force the right to appeal the Australian Rugby Union’s decision to axe the team from the Super Rugby competition.

Justice David Hammerschlag said on Wednesday he had read written submissions from both the Force and the ARU and he believed an appeal should be heard.

The judge said he would go straight into hearing the appeal on Wednesday.

The news comes as a big boost for the Force, whose survival hopes were dealt a blow on Tuesday when the ARU rejected a multi-million dollar from billionaire Andrew Forrest to save the franchise.

Forrest made an offer to the ARU – believed to be worth $50 million – to pump funds into Australian rugby if they reversed their decision to axe the Force.

But the governing body refused to budge, with the matter set to be decided in the courts.

RugbyWA are arguing the ARU had no right to axe the Force under the terms of the alignment deal that was struck last year.

In that deal, which was effectively a takeover, the ARU guaranteed the Force’s future until at least the end of the broadcast deal in 2020.

But the ARU successfully argued in arbitration that the broadcast deal has since been renegotiated, given the competition will go from 18 teams to 15.


With the broadcast deal tweaked because of the fewer number of teams, the ARU claim they were within their rights to axe the Force.

The Cheetahs and Kings were also axed as part of the shake-up, with the South African franchises joining Europe’s Pro14 competition.

The size of Forrest’s offer to the ARU has stunned the rugby public.

Forrest also guaranteed to bankroll any potential future losses by the Force.

But the ARU said they couldn’t reinstate the Force because SANZAAR had already eliminated a 16-team Super competition for a number of reasons.

“These factors included the extensive cost and limited appeal of a 16-team round-robin competition, player welfare issues due to extra travel requirements, and the loss of popular home and away ‘derbies’ in each country,” ARU chairman Cameron 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.”


If the Force’s appeal is unsuccessful, Forrest has pledged to start up a new international rugby competition that will see the Force compete with teams from Asia.