Stubborn ARU hurting grassroots: RUPA

Cameron Clyne. Photo: Getty Images
Cameron Clyne. Photo: Getty Images
The ARU's decision to reject Andrew Forrest's $50 million offer will hurt grassroots rugby all over Australia, according to the Rugby Union Players' Association.

Forrest made the extraordinary financial offer to the ARU on one condition: they reinstate the Western Force.

But the ARU are refusing to budge, saying they already promised SANZAAR they would axe one Australian franchise.

The saga took a dramatic twist on Wednesday amid claims ARU chairman Cameron Clyne initially agreed to accept Forrest's offer only to renege when a face-to-face meeting was organised two days later.

Clyne refutes the claims made by RugbyWA board member David Vaux.

The Force's future will now be decided by Justice David Hammerschlag after RugbyWA's appeal was heard in the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday.

RUPA chief executive Ross Xenos said he was bewildered by the ARU rejecting Forrest's offer.

"The proposal was based on $50 million being provided to the Australian rugby foundation, which would then assist rugby across the country," Xenos said.

"This was not just a package aimed to deliver support or success in WA. This was something that was going to improve community and grassroots rugby across Australia.

"That's deeply disappointing that all states - east coast and west coast - won't be able to share in those spoils."

Xenos says the ARU should be capitalising on the crisis by accepting Forrest's offer.

RUPA are offering support to the Force players caught in limbo.

The playing group have vowed to stay united until the Supreme Court decision is handed down but Xenos says their lives are being heavily affected.

"What's disappointing here is we have a code self-inflicting this upon ourselves," Xenos said.

"The players are doing it tough. Their families are doing it tough.

"The fact this continues to drag on means we've got issues around leases, childcare placements, and much broader issues that most of us don't really think about.

"For their wellbeing, we hope this is wrapped up soon and there's a positive decision."

The ARU claim there is not enough player depth to sustain five franchises but Xenos strongly disagrees.

"Having four professional teams in Super Rugby would mean we would have more Australian players playing professionally overseas than what we would have playing Super Rugby in Australia," he said.

"We don't see that being that being conducive to long term success."

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