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Western Force appeals ARU’s Super Rugby verdict

Australian Super Rugby franchise Western Force has today (Monday) appealed the decision by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to cut it from rugby union’s premier club competition in the southern hemisphere.

The ARU confirmed plans on Friday to axe the Force from the competition following a lengthy arbitration process. Following the announcement, the Perth-based franchise vowed to take legal action and the team has today filed a court appeal against the move.

Rugby WA, the governing body for rugby union in the state of Western Australia, filed the appeal to the Supreme Court of New South Wales and, according to the Reuters news agency, a hearing will take place on August 23.

A spokesman for the Force and Rugby WA had claimed the franchise had been handed an injunction order that would block the ARU’s plans to close down the team. However, Reuters reported that the Supreme Court’s media department, citing chambers, said no injunction had been given to the Force.

Billionaire businessman Andrew Forrest is among those supporting a campaign to save the Force. He said, according to the ABC News website: “I do not know legally if an injunction is possible, but I can tell you this we’ll be doing our very best to try.”

Friday’s announcement by the ARU came after weeks of debate, with the Force and Melbourne Rebels emerging as the two franchises under threat, with one of the five Super Rugby teams facing the axe as part of a restructuring of Super Rugby from 2018 that will reduce the total number of teams from 18 to 15.

Two South African teams, the Cheetahs and Southern Kings, have also left Super Rugby – which is operated by Sanzaar, the umbrella organisation of major southern hemisphere rugby unions – to join what will become the European Pro14 from next season.