SYDNEY - The embattled Australian Rugby Union voiced surprise on Thursday that it will be subject to a "highly unusual" parliamentary inquiry after its decision to axe the Western Force from Super Rugby.
Western Australia senator Linda Reynolds tabled a motion in the national Senate on Wednesday, which was carried, to look into the ARU decision-making process and transparency surrounding it.
ARU chairman Cameron Clyne said he was surprised over the government interference, given legal issues had prevented what information could be made public.
"Following Tuesday's result in the NSW Supreme Court, we were able to address this to a significant degree by providing a detailed record of the process via a statement and supporting documentation," he said.
"ARU has absolutely no concerns about the integrity of the process that has been run."
The Perth-based Force were informed they were being culled from Super Rugby last month and on Tuesday the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney dismissed their appeal.
SANZAAR, the governing body of Super Rugby, decided to reduce the competition from an unwieldly 18-team model to 15, with two teams from South Africa also cut.
The move to axe the Force sparked anger among supporters and the club's parent body RugbyWA, particularly billionaire backer Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest who has questioned the rationale and demanded Clyne resign.
Clyne said the ARU had been in talks with the government through sports minister Greg Hunt during the process, discussing the reasons for moving from five Australian Super Rugby teams to four.
He said it was "a highly unusual step for government to single out a national sporting organisation for this type of process".
"Throughout, the government has made it abundantly clear that it does not want to interfere with the way in which sports operate and make decisions," he said.
"But it appears this stance has now changed - this is a concern for the entire industry. Certainly there will be questions asked as to whether an inquiry like this is a suitable use of public funds."
The inquiry, which is due to report on November 13, will examine the ARU board's deliberations in leading to its decision and whether there continues to be a national rugby footprint with no Super team in Perth.
It will also look at the impact of the decision on national participation in rugby.
RugbyWA is evaluating its legal options and whether to take the matter to a higher court.
In the meantime, Forrest has announced plans for a rival Indo-Pacific league with six teams initially involved, including the Force, but he is yet to table fuller details.