SYDNEY, Australia – The Australian Rugby Union has endorsed the decision to scrap one of the country's Super teams and stuck with its embattled chief executive Bill Pulver, who has been under pressure over the move.
ARU members voted in favour of axing one of Australia's five teams, which has become bogged down in legal wrangling since it was first announced by SAANZAR, the southern hemisphere rugby body, in April.
"The majority of members have voted in support of going from five teams to four," ARU chairman Cameron Clyne told reporters after an emergency general meeting in Sydney on Tuesday.
The ARU also voted in support of setting up an advisory body – a Super Rugby Commission – to oversee the process, with Clyne adding that members were "very comfortable to have that discussion".
Chief executive Pulver, who had reportedly offered to resign if he was called on to go, was not challenged at the meeting, Clyne said.
"We recognised that these are long-term trends and everybody in the room – the ARU board right through to all the others – we've all got accountability for what are long-term trends, not just in rugby, but in sport," he said.
"It was actually a very constructive and civil discussion, there were no discussions of leadership changes or anything like that."
Either Perth's Western Force or the Melbourne Rebels will be cut from next year's Super Rugby competition, which is returning to 15 teams after expanding to an unwieldy 18 this season.
Tuesday's meeting was called by the Victorian Rugby Union and the Rugby Union Players' Association, who both want answers on how the ARU plans to proceed with its plan to cut a team.
But Clyne could not provide clarity on when the decision will be made. "We've always said we'd like to bring it to resolution as quickly as possible but we don't control that timing," he said.
He added: "When you're making a difficult change, I accept there is criticism that it's taken time.
"Had I come out on April 10 and said we're going to exit a team and it's going to take four months, there'd be equal criticism coming back."
Australia's Super Rugby teams have also had a tough season on the pitch, with none of them managing to beat New Zealand opposition so far this year.