Western Force open legal fight over Super Rugby axing
By Mark Ashenden
Last Updated: 14/08/17 2:25pm
Western Force have begun their legal fight to retain their Super Rugby status by winning an injunction against the Australian Rugby Union.
The Perth club's parent body, Rugby WA, had lodged an appeal request with the New South Wales Supreme Court, after the country's governing body announced their removal from the southern hemisphere competition last week.
Western Force have fallen victim to Australia's decision to cut one of its five Super Rugby teams as the competition slims down from 18 sides to 15 next year.
The ARU opted to discontinue the Force's Super Rugby licence following weeks of consultation with rugby bodies and stakeholders, including government and commercial partners.
They expect to find out by August 21 if they are able to appeal. The injunction, granted Monday, means the ARU cannot sack or relocate any of Force's players until the issue is resolved.
Many of the Force's players are determined to fight the decision.
With the Wallabies preparing for the Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday, Dane Haylett-Petty said: "It's mixed emotions.
"I'm angry, confused, disappointed, but as a group we're really sticking tight and the process is not done yet.
"Hopefully this is resolved in the next few weeks and from chatting with a lot of the boys, the boys are willing to stay tight to the end."
Rugby WA enjoys the heavyweight backing of billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest, who has called for a complete overhaul of the ARU board.
In the immediate fall-out from the contentious decision to cull the Force, ARU chief executive Bill Pulver announced his resignation, saying the body needed a "clean slate".
ARU director Geoff Stooke, who is from Western Australia, stepped down in protest at the Force's demise, while the Rugby Union Players' Association condemned the decision as the "darkest day in the history of Australian rugby".