THE AUSTRALIAN RUGBY Union Players Association (Rupa) has launched a petition in an attempt to prevent Super Rugby chiefs from reducing the number of Australian teams in the competition.
Doubts over which sides will play in Super Rugby remain after governing body Sanzaar met in London this month to discuss changes to the structure.
It has been reported that up to three teams could be cut at the end of the season and Rupa has made its stance clear, setting up a petition in a bid to keep the five Australian franchises going.
Rupa stated on its website: “Reducing our professional franchises drastically weakens the economic potential of the game, decreases elite playing and coaching opportunities for aspiring talent, and signals a game in retreat in the battle for the hearts and minds of fans.”
The move from Rupa comes after a fresh report from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph which claimed to have viewed a document ‘only seen by a handful of the most influential powerbrokers’ which outlined a 15-team Super Rugby future without the Perth-based Western Force.
The Telegraph added that Australian contracted players are considering striking during the National Rugby Championship if the nation’s Super Rugby representation is trimmed.
Back in the Rupa statement, the union laid responsibility at the ARU’s feet and called for them to protect Australian teams over recently established sides in Argentina and Japan.
“Such a decision will cause permanent damage and will affect community rugby as much as the professional game. We have five Super Rugby teams all eager to participate in the competition and who have committed to being commercially viable.
“Whether it’s 18 [teams], 16 or 15, there are competition models which support five Australian teams. But the ARU [Australian Rugby Union] may decide that one team won’t be given the chance to continue.
“Having signed Australian Rugby up to the current Super Rugby competition which has reduced local content, diluted local derby tribalism and disrespected fans with its lack of integrity, we need to protect our future – a Trans-Tasman or Australasian competition.
“We must protect our teams first.”
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