Axed Force to fight Super Rugby decision

Justin Chadwick
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Super Force

Billionaire Andrew Forrest has vowed to back the Western Force all the way

The Western Force have vowed to take the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to court after being axed from the Super Rugby competition - and billionaire Andrew Forrest is backing them all the way.

The ARU won its arbitration hearing against RugbyWA on Friday, and immediately announced it would axe the Force.

But the saga isn't about to end, with RugbyWA to take out an injunction against the ARU's decision to cull the Force.

If the Force win a right of appeal, they will take the case to the Supreme Court.

RugbyWA will also consider mounting legal action relating to the circumstances which led it to enter into the 'Alliance' agreement last year with the ARU.

Forrest, describing the decision to axe the Force as "retrograde" and "illogical", has reaffirmed his pledge to do everything within his powers to save the Force.

"We want leadership from the Australian Rugby Union, not cowardly litigation," said Forrest, who is worth $4.8 billion.

"But if they want to continue to fight us, we will happily take them on for as long as it takes.

"This (decision by the ARU) is like dumping the fastest improving athlete or the silver medallist from the Olympic swimming squad and leaving the worst performer in there.

"It is a ludicrous and unfair legal initiative by the ARU."

Forrest believes the ARU made the decision more than three months ago to axe the Force.

And even his guarantee to bankroll any potential future losses by the franchise fell on deaf ears.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver announced he would be standing down once a replacement could be found.

His impending departure follows the exits earlier this year of chief operations manager Rob Clarke and chief financial officer Todd Day.

Force chief executive Mark Sinderberry was in tears after the decision was handed down, and he questioned how the ARU could justify it.

"We are absolutely convinced this is the wrong decision, and we will be taking every possible means to ensure we turn this decision around," Sinderberry said.

"I'm really concerned the three people that have been involved in this decision have now decided to leave the ARU. For us, that raises a lot of questions."

Forrest was also suspicious about the ARU's process to axe the Force.

"Every time I spoke to the chairman of the ARU (Cameron Clyne) or anybody else involved in this decision, they could not fault the logic that supporting the Force is the only possible logical decision," Forrest said.

"I've informed the ARU at chairman's level and I've informed the minister for sport that I would stand behind the sport financially - that I would guarantee the ARU no loss.

"And still in light of that unequivocal support for this great state and our great sport, they've attempted to cut the Western Force.

"This is purely a first try against us ... but it's not the end of the game. We are not giving up on this."

The Force made vast improvement this year under rookie coach Dave Wessels, unearthing a host of talented players who the franchise hoped would carry them to a title within three years.

The Perth-based outfit finished second in the Australian conference, and had nine players selected last month in an extended Wallabies squad.

Grassroots rugby in WA has also grown from strength to strength since the Force's 2006 introduction.

But if the Force's appeal fails - or they don't win the right to appeal - they will be left with no choice but to wrap up operations.

The Melbourne Rebels had been the other team on the chopping block, but they are safe.

The Victorian Rugby Union owns the Rebels after buying them from former owner Andrew Cox for $1.