Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver has blown the whistle on his own job, just hours after the ARU controversially announced it was axing the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition.
Pulver, who took over from John O’Neill in 2013, says he will stay on until the board finds his replacement.
He announced his decision at a media conference after the ARU revealed it would to cut the Force from the 2018 season, saying the latter was an “incredibly tough decision”.
“It’s been a tough year for rugby. It’s a good time for a renewed leadership. A clean state,” he said.
“Sports is a difficult business and we have had a difficult year. This means it is the right time for me to step down and create renewal.
Pulver apologised to Western Australian fans, but added that it was “the right decision for Super Rugby”.
“We need to get the balance right,” he said.
He said the ARU will honour the contracts of the Force players who now no longer have jobs.
Justifying the decision to cut the Force, which matched the Australian competition leader, the ACT Brumbies with six wins for the season, ahead of the Melbourne Rebels, who won just one of 15 games, Pulver said the ARU needed to support “areas of the game that are growing” and that community rugby needs more financial support.
“We did an exhaustive analysis, and at the end of the day the decision to cut the Force came down to the financial and performance aspects,” he said.
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