???Rugby Union Players’ Association chief executive Ross Xenos has welcomed the idea of an earlier meeting between the Australian Rugby Union and stakeholders to get further clarity on the ongoing Super Rugby saga and hinted that an emergency general meeting was not necessarily called to try and remove ARU CEO Bill Pulver and the rest of the board.
The ARU spent Thursday trying to organise two potential dates; for a preliminary meeting between themselves and key stakeholders – namely the Victorian Rugby Union and RUPA – as well as an EGM next month.
The national governing body is expected to announce dates within the coming days after consultation with relevant parties.
While Xenos and RUPA president Dean Mumm insist an EGM is what they are really after, the players’ association is open to getting an update on the future of the Melbourne Rebels and Western Force within the next seven days, as offered by the ARU.
“Any meeting between the ARU and the stakeholders that are involved is a positive thing but it does not alleviate our motivation to move forward with a general meeting,” Xenos told Fairfax Media. “There would be some members of the ARU who would not be in the major stakeholder meeting who would be heavily impacted by the implications of the ARU’s Super Rugby decision. We feel they deserve a transparent update on the current state of play.”
There has been speculation RUPA and VRU called for an EGM in order to try and oust ARU directors or potentially issue a vote of no confidence in Pulver, chairman Cameron Clyne and the board.
Such a move can only be done at an EGM.
Xenos, however, said at this stage they were only focused on providing an update to desperate players.
“We’ve requested that matters pertaining to Super Rugby were discussed and we’ve not given any consideration to other items of business being discussed at the general meeting beyond that,” Xenos said.
Mumm said players’ livelihoods were being threatened and demanded the ARU put an end to ongoing anxiety.
“All of us believe this has been simmering on without much knowledge of what’s been going on behind the scenes, so we’d like to see things a little more open, get some accountability into what’s been going on,” Mumm said outside Waratahs headquarters on Thursday.
“People are going to lose their livelihood. In terms of anxiety, it doesn’t decrease the longer it goes. It’s a very hard position for people.
“All anyone hears at the moment is a bit of rumour and innuendo without internally saying what’s going to happen and when it [a final decision] is going to happen more importantly.”
The RUPA board, which includes a number of Wallabies players, including captain Stephen Moore and five-eighth Bernard Foley, met on Wednesday and were unanimous in their view to call for an EGM, with the backing of the VRU. ???
“I think you can influence the timeline in the sense this general meeting has to be within 21 days,” Mumm said. “We’d love to see a full general meeting involving all stakeholders in the next 21 days.”
The other pressing issue is that of player contracts, with a number of sought-after footballers said to be on the cusp of joining overseas clubs because of a moratorium implemented by the ARU preventing players from finalising their futures.
“There are ripple effects across the country,” Xenos said. “Of the nine players on the RUPA board, each could speak to an example within their teams or their friendship groups of a player whose livelihood has been put under enormous stress and anxiety because those players are unable to execute long-form contracts with certainty about their rugby futures.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika raised eyebrows this week with his comments regarding the delay, saying: “The issue around certainty in anyone’s life is made by the person themselves ??? at the end of the day, we’re all in charge of our own destiny.”
Asked what he thought about Cheika’s comments, Mumm replied: “Off the field in terms of contracting, it’s very hard to say that the players do have it all in their own hands at the moment.
“I don’t feel personally it’s a kick in the guts. The players control their own destiny when they’re on the field. Maybe that’s the interpretation? When you play, you shouldn’t be worrying what’s going on off the field.”