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WA Premier threatens legal action over Force axe

Mark McGowan, the Premier of the Government of Western Australia, has told Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver that the state is “exploring all legal options” in relation with the decision to axe the Western Force rugby union franchise from the Super Rugby competition.

Earlier this month arbitrators gave the ARU the go-ahead to cut the Force after a process that had dragged on for four months, but the franchise’s operators vowed to fight the decision. The franchise has already initiated legal action against the move, with an initial hearing scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) and it now appears that Western Australia will add its own legal challenge, with ABC reporting that the state could seek up to Aus$100m (€67m/$79m) in compensation.

"I think the ARU is completely ignoring everything that has been done for rugby in this state, so we're going to look at what options we have to take them to court," McGowan told ABC Perth.

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has floated the idea of establishing a breakaway league if the decision to cut the Force from rugby’s premier southern hemisphere competition is not reversed.

Pulver confirmed following the announcement that Western Force would be dropped that he would be stepping down as ARU chief executive several months earlier than planned, with his five-year tenure having been scheduled to end in February.