Court allows Western Force to appeal Super Rugby axing

SYDNEY (AP) A Supreme Court judge has granted the Western Force the right to appeal the Australian Rugby Union’s decision to axe the team from the Super Rugby competition.

Justice David Hammerschlag of the New South Wales state Supreme Court on Wednesday said he had read written submissions from both the Force and the ARU and he believed an appeal should be heard.

Hammerschlag said he would go straight into hearing the appeal later Wednesday, but a decision might not be announced until next week.

RugbyWA, backers of the Force, argued the ARU had no right to axe the Perth-based club under the terms of the alignment deal that was struck last year. In that deal, which was effectively a takeover, the ARU was reported to have guaranteed the Force’s future until at least the end of the broadcast deal in 2020.

But the ARU successfully argued in arbitration that the broadcast deal had since been renegotiated since the competition will go from 18 teams down to 15. The ARU announced the Force’s axing on Aug. 11, and the Force said it would appeal the following day.

South Africa’s Cheetahs and Kings were also axed as part of the shakeup, with the South African franchises set to join Europe’s Pro14 competition.