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Rebels seek ARU compo on Super Rugby plans

NZN 14/04/2017

The Melbourne Rebels have insisted the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has no right to "cut or chop" them from Super Rugby, as they fight for their survival in a reduced competition from next year.

In a statement released on Friday night, the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union (MRRU) has confirmed it intends to seek compensation from the ARU for the damage caused by its "unnecessary public statements and action" in its handling of the process.

The Rebels, whose licence is held by private company Imperium Sports Management (ISM) and run through the MRRU, have been identified by the ARU as being under review after governing body SANZAAR's announcement it will cull three teams.

Two franchises from South Africa and one from Australia, which the ARU says will be the Rebels or the Perth-based Western Force, are on the chopping block as Super Rugby is reduced in 2018 to 15 teams.

The Force have already launched legal action against the ARU about the decision-making process with the Rebels following suit.

"We unequivocally reject that the ARU has any ability to chop or cut (ARU words) the Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby licence," the MRRU statement read.

"Any representation by the ARU, including its Chairman, to that effect is legally incorrect and in complete conflict with the constitution of the ARU.

"The ARU's continued use of these terms and perpetuation of this myth continues to cause significant damage to MRRU and its players and staff."

The MRRU says the ARU's decision to reduce Australian representation from five to four teams and that they could be the team "cut" was contrary to previous advice.

It was also surprised that ARU management had expressed doubts, over numerous years, on the financial viability of having five Australian teams in Super Rugby.

"MRRU notes that this concern was not conveyed to Imperium Sports Management prior to its acquisition of MRRU despite the full board and management of the ARU having the opportunity to do so," the statement said.

"MRRU is disappointed that its staff, players, members, fans and partners have suffered anguish and emotional distress ... (and) immediately requests the ARU to put an end to this ongoing saga."

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