Force granted injunction in fight against Super Rugby axing

PERTH, Australia (AP) The Western Force has been granted an injunction as it fights the Australian Rugby Union’s decision to cut the club from a revamped Super Rugby competition in 2018.

The injunction was granted Monday by the Supreme Court of New South Wales state, where Rugby Western Australia has started the process of appealing last Friday’s decision to cut the Force from the southern hemisphere’s premier provincial rugby tournament.

It means the ARU can’t start the process of reassigning Force players before Aug. 21, when the Sydney-based court is expected to decide whether or not it will allow the appeal.

The ARU had hoped to end a period of turmoil when it ended months of uncertainty by announcing which one of its five Super Rugby clubs it would cut.

But the Force has responded with legal action which promises to prolong an already bitter dispute. Bill Pulver has already announced he will quit as ARU chief executive as soon as a replacement can be found.

The ARU promised in April to make the decision on which team to cut within 72 hours of a meeting of Super Rugby organizers.

But there was no easy choice between the Melbourne-based Rebels and the Perth-based Force. The Rebels, who joined Super Rugby in 2011, have carved out a small foothold in the highly competitive and lucrative Melbourne sporting market. The Force, added in 2006, were seen as vital by giving rugby a presence on Australia’s west coast whereas it’s traditional base has always been in the east coast states of New South Wales and Queensland.

The Australian Rugby Players’ Association quickly condemned the ARU decision’s decision to cut the Perth franchise, with chief executive Ross Xenos describing it as ”the darkest day in the history of Australian rugby.”