MINING billionaire Andrew Forrest has announced a rebel rugby competition to take on Super Rugby in the wake of the Western Force’s court loss to the Australian Rugby Union.
The Force lost its NSW Supreme Court appeal to stay in the competition today.
But within an hour of that decision, Forrest, who has also vowed to take the ARU to the NSW Court of Appeal and the High Court, announced his plans for an Indo Pacific competition.
Initially the competition will have six teams, including sides expected from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
“This is the beginning of the new Western Force,” Forrest said.
“This new Australasian rugby format will tag deep into the burgeoning interest in rugby that exists amongst countries in the time zone that is aligned to WA.
“We have recruited world class sport futurists and experienced rugby leaders to design a smart and prosperous new rugby format that will appeal to players, coaches fans, supporters and broadcasters.”
Twiggy’s Force fight
Force great Matt Hodgson broke down in tears before the media on Tuesday.
He vowed to help Forrest launch the new competition.
But Force players may now leave the franchise in droves in order to join a rival Super Rugby franchise.
Forrest urged them to hold fire for at least a few days until he unveils more details of his grand plan.
Devastated Force coach Dave Wessels was unsure whether he would remain.
Wessels, who would be in high demand elsewhere, said he would talk with his family before making a decision.
Following Tuesday’s court decision, RugbyWA said it expected the ARU would now confirm Force’s axing from the Super Rugby competition.
Forrest again called on ARU chairman Cameron Clyne to resign, saying the former NAB chief executive should have stuck with running a bank.
The ARU initially moved to axe the Force from the Super Rugby competition last month after winning an arbitration case against RugbyWA.
RugbyWA argued that the ARU had no power to axe the Force because the governing body signed an “alliance” deal guaranteeing the franchise’s future until the end of the broadcast deal in 2020.
But the ARU successfully argued in arbitration that the deal no longer stood because the TV rights have since been renegotiated to accommodate a reduced 15-team competition.
Force fans have threatened to boycott Saturday’s clash between the Wallabies and South Africa in Perth.
But Hodgson has urged them to rattend wearing their blue Western Force jersey.
“Or probably black – a day of mourning,” Hodgson added.
– with AAP