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Western Australian government threatens to bankrupt ARU for axeing Force from Super Rugby

The State Government has warned the Australian Rugby Union it will sue for more than $100 million.

Image: Jon Buckle

THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN (WA) government has threatened to bankrupt the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) following the expulsion of the Western Force from Super Rugby.

The escalation arrived just hours after thousands of Force fans gathered at RugbyWA headquarters on Saturday, in a protest aimed towards the east.

The West Australian would later report that the State Government had warned the ARU that it would sue for more than $100 million should the Force not be reinstated in the southern hemisphere’s premier club competition.

The paper reported that the government informed the ARU it was investigating undertakings guaranteeing the future of the Force, which underpinned ‘investment in various areas’ – the redevelopment of nib Stadium in particular.

The WA government put $95 million into the venue, as well as $17 million into RugbyWA’s headquarters. It also sponsors the Force for $1.5 million per year via its Road Safety Commission, and had previously offered to bring forward $4 million in payments in order for the Bledisloe Cup to be staged at the new Perth Stadium.

Nick Taylor and Liam Croy of The West Australian also reported that Premier Mark McGowan had ordered the State Solicitor’s Office to take charge of the investigation.

In a letter sent to ARU chief executive Bill Pulver sent on Friday, which came into Taylor and Croy’s possession, McGowan wrote: “These investments were not made lightly and were made with the clear expectation and understanding that the Western Force would continue to participate in the Super Rugby competition.

“Therefore, the WA State Government believes the decision by the Australian Rugby Union to remove Western Force from the competition is in breach of its commitments to the people of Western Australia.

With this in mind, I can confirm the the WA State Government is now exploring all legal options aimed at seeking compensation from the ARU.

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