Australian union to hold special meeting on Super Rugby cuts

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Mitchell Short of Western Force is ready to kick the ball during the 2017 Super Rugby game between the Sharks and the Force at Kings Park.

Mitchell Short of Western Force is ready to kick the ball during the 2017 Super Rugby game between the Sharks and the Force at Kings Park. (Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix)

SYDNEY (AP) — The Australian Rugby Union has agreed to hold a special general meeting within seven days to explain its delay in deciding which of Australia's five teams will be cut from Super Rugby next season.

The Rugby Union Players Association joined with the Victoria Rugby Union in pressing the ARU to convene the special meeting, saying it needs "a transparent, comprehensive update" on the process which threatens the future of either the Perth-based Western Force or Melbourne Rebels.

The ARU faces legal action from both the Rebels and Force as it attempts to comply with a decision of Super Rugby's governing body SANZAAR to reduce the competition from 18 to 15 teams next season by cutting two teams from South Africa and one from Australia.

The possibility of legal action derailed the ARU's intention to make a quick decision and forced it to enter potentially lengthy negotiation with the threatened teams.

Dom Day of the Rebels makes a pass from the lineout during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Rebels, held at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand, on 31 March 2017. Credit: Joe Allison / www.photosport.nz
Dom Day of the Rebels makes a pass from the lineout during the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Rebels, held at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand, on 31 March 2017. Credit: Joe Allison / www.photosport.nz

As the issue has dragged on without a decision, the ARU has faced intense criticism from RUPA and from the affected teams.

On Tuesday, Rebels assistant coach and former Wallaby Morgan Turinui described the ARU's handling of the matter as "a disgrace" and said players were experiencing mental health issues while waiting for their futures to be decided.

ARU chairman Cameron Clyne responded to those concerns Wednesday by saying that while 21 days notice of a general meeting was usually required, the meeting would be expedited.

He said "the board is willing to meet with the major stakeholders within a shorter time-frame to detail as much information as we are able on the current process regarding Super Rugby. We will aim to hold this meeting within the next seven days."

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