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The ARU respond to Toulon owner's threat to sue them for 'millions'

Quade Cooper’s expected u-turn on his contract with the Top 14 side is causing controversy.

THE AUSTRALIAN RUGBY Union has responded to Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal’s threat to sue them for “millions” over what he perceives as their effort to ensure Quade Cooper turns his back on a contract with the Top 14 club.

Boudjellal expressed his anger at reports that Wallabies out-half Cooper will sign a new four-year deal in Australia rather than honour his prior agreement with Toulon, stating that the ARU have not respected the French side’s rights.

quade_cooper30 Toulon officially announced the signing of Cooper in April. Source: RCT

However, speaking to Iain Payten of Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, ARU general manager Rob Clarke said the union has few worries.

“We will leave that very much in the hands of Quade and his management. That is their issue,” said Clarke. “As far as the ARU are concerned, we have had ongoing discussions with Quade for a long time and nothing has been totally finalised.

“It really is up to Quade how he handles the Toulon situation, and the ARU really isn’t planning on being involved in it.”

A deeply unhappy Boudjellal indicated that he feels the ARU are guilty of collusion in their efforts to convince Cooper to stay at home when he had already signed a deal with three-time European champions Toulon.

ARU man Clarke responded by pointing out that Toulon – who have signed Ireland captain Paul O’Connell for next season – had essentially done the same thing when first speaking to Cooper.

“I don’t think anything prevents anybody from talking with anybody. Indeed, Toulon spoke to Quade in the middle of the Super Rugby season and flew him over there so that just highlights that point.

AustraliaÕs Quade Cooper  29/11//2014 Cooper is on the bench for the Wallabies this weekend. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

“As to where it leaves the situation legally, we don’t have an opinion because it is really not our issue. If two people talk together, is that collusion? I’d leave that for the lawyers.”

It would be a major surprise if Boudjellal doesn’t produce a response of his own to these words from the ARU. Watch this space.

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Murray Kinsella

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