THE Western Force has been booted from the Super Rugby competition after the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) resolved to discontinue its licence.
ARU chairman Cameron Clyne said the decision, made on Friday, means the Super Rugby competition would revert to 15 teams for the 2018 season.
“This has been a complex process to reduce Australia’s Super Rugby representation to four teams as agreed by SANZAAR following its review of the competition,” he said.
“We are regretful that this issue has consumed so much of the public commentary on the game in 2017.
“It was clearly not our intention for this to play out over such a lengthy period however there have been factors outside the ARU’s control that have prevented us from completing the process.”
Mr Clyne said the decision to scrap the Force was “guided primarily by financial outcomes”.
“As we have reinforced throughout this process, there are commercial realities which are linked to declining on-field performance across our Super Rugby teams which has put Australian Rugby in a position where it can no longer sustain five teams,” he said.
“Furthermore, the significant unbudgeted support funding that has been provided to Super Rugby teams over the past five years has greatly affected our capacity to invest in community rugby.”
But he said it was not “a decision to abandon the game in Western Australia”.
“There will be a clear pathway for young Western Australian Rugby players to reach the highest level and represent the Wallabies,” he said.
“Our immediate concern is to support the individuals at the Western Force through these difficult circumstances and we will deploy various ARU management staff to Western Australia to provide assistance to all players and staff.”
Premier Mark McGowan made a plea earlier this year for the team to remain in the competition.
“The former government put a lot of money behind that team,” Mr McGowan said.
“The Labor government back in the early 2000s worked to secure them and there was around $100 million put into Perth Oval to ensure it was a stadium suitable for rugby.
“The State has invested a lot of money in the Western Force and I think the Australian Rugby Union needs to understand that and support the investment the State put into that team.
“They (ARU) need to deliver on their part of the bargain and that is leaving the team in place.”