The ARU will be forced to front a Senate inquiry into its decision to axe the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition and says it’s “surprised” by the scrutiny, with chairman Cameron Clyne saying “there will be questions asked as to whether an inquiry like this is a suitable use of public funds”.
Western Australian senator Linda Reynolds’ motion for the inquiry into the future of rugby was backed by the Senate. The decision may force the ARU to disclose sensitive documents about its process, having already revealed earlier this week that it faced running out of cash by Q3 2019 and could have been between $13 and $26 million in debt by 2020 if it kept five teams in the competition.
“In simple terms, ARU would be unable to continue trading beyond 2019 were it to continue to fund five Super Rugby teams through to 2020,” the organisation said in supporting documents this week.
The Senate inquiry will increase the pressure on Clyne over his stewardship of the game as it delves into all aspects of the sport. CEO Bill Pulver announced his resignation just hours after the ARU controversially cut the Western Force from the competition.
The Senate’s Community Affairs References Committee will look into the state of the code and is due to report by November 13.
Meanwhile, Western Force backer, mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, has announced plans for a seven team rival Indo-Pacific rugby competition after the Supreme Court upheld the ARU’s decision to axe the side.
In a statement issued today, Clyne said the “ARU has absolutely no concerns about the integrity of the process that has been run”.
“While it is a highly unusual step for Government to single out a national sporting organisation for this type of process, particularly when there is no policy or legislation under review in relation to Australian Rugby, we welcome the opportunity to address the committee,” he said.
Clyne said the ARU had been in discussions with federal sports minister Greg Hunt during the process of cutting the competition from five teams to four.
“Throughout, the Government has made it abundantly clear that it does not want to interfere with the way in which sports operate and make decisions, but it appears this stance has now changed – this is a concern for the entire industry,” he said.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.