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ARU boss Pulver unlikely to stand down

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6 days ago Adrian Warren and Vince Rugari and Darren Walton

Australia's messy Super Rugby situation won't necessarily become any clearer at Tuesday's emergency general meeting, but ARU boss Bill Pulver is unlikely to be a sacrificial lamb.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika on Monday stressed he remained loyal to Pulver, whose position has come under increasing speculation and scrutiny because of the ARU's decision to axe an Australian Super Rugby team and their handling of the process.

Over two months have elapsed since Australian rugby's governing body announced a franchise would be cut, a process they initially expected to complete in 72 hours.

The South African rugby union has called a special meeting for July 7 to propose which two of its teams will be dropped - almost certainly the Cheetahs and Kings.

However, the ARU admits it still has "no definitive timeline" on when it will decide the fate of Melbourne Rebels and Western Force.

Both teams have since launched legal action against the ARU, who have an arbitration hearing with the Force set for July 31 and begin mediation with the Rebels later this month over their damages claim.

Three resolutions pertaining to Super Rugby proposed jointly by the Victorian Rugby Union and The Rugby Union Players' Association, will be voted on at ARU headquarters by all the state unions and Super Rugby teams bar the Force, whose licence is owned by the ARU.

The resolutions ask for the ARU to consider it's in the best interests of rugby in Australia that five teams are maintained in Super Rugby until at least the end of the 2020 season, and for the ARU to reconsider their decision to reduce that number.

The third resolution wants the ARU to consider the establishment of an Australian Super Rugby Commission, which will act as an advisory body to them on the future participation of local teams in the multi-national competition.

Pulver, whose contract expires in February next year cannot be removed at the EGM.

However, he told Fairfax Media that if all the voting members told him on Tuesday it was time for change, he would step down immediately.

It's considered highly unlikely that will happen, as RUPA have stressed they are not seeking to remove Pulver, or any member of the ARU board.

His position would come under threat and possibly become untenable if all three resolutions were carried.

However, that scenario is unlikely to eventuate, given that self interest may govern the voting intentions of some of the more established unions, who carry more votes and whose teams stand to pick up players from any axed franchise.

Cheika at his Monday press conference bristled at a question about Pulver.

"If you're looking for me to come out here and criticise my boss, who stands by us as best he can and does the best he can, whether all the decisions are right or wrong, then you're talking to the wrong bloke," Cheika said.

"Loyalty is built inside of me. I'll have my say within the organisation to try and do what's best but I know my place.

"He's the boss of the rugby here and I'm the coach of the team, and I've got a lot of loyalty there."

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