Don't blame us for Super Rugby team loss, say Kiwis

Mack Mason found his groove as the game went

The Western Force, who have never played finals since joining the competition in 2006, have been touted as favourites for the chop, while the ACT Brumbies have been told they are safe and the future of the Rebels is unclear.

The irony this season is that the Force, with two wins from six, are now ranked as the secondbest Australian team, just above the woeful Waratahs (2 from 7), the ridiculous Reds (1 from 7) and the rabble called the Rebels (0 from 5).

"The Sunwolves are honored and privileged to be part of the toughest rugby competition in the world, and the news today of our continued involvement in a 15-team format is great news for the players, coaches and organization alike".

The Australian Rugby Union will now let the two endangered franchises plead their case for survival.

Clyne emphasised the decision to cut one of the five Australian sides was taken by the ARU, not Super Rugby governing body SANZAAR. "To walk away from that would be fearless".

"We're very confident about where we stand".

"Sadly it is very clear to me now that we can not sustain five teams, either from a financial perspective or a high-performance perspective", Pulver said.

"In 2005, there was something like 185 junior teams in WA. That's the impact of having the Western Force here".

Last month, the Rugby Union Players Association hinted at strike action, and a spokesman described the decision as "short-sighted and ill-conceived", but Clyne said the landscape had changed since expansion of the league, which started out with 12 teams in 1996.

Now you may think it, but you don't know.


"Do I put him in rugby, or do I stay in WA and have him playing AFL".

"The way it's been done is probably the most annoying thing", said the popular flanker.

One of the criticisms of the 18-team format was the convoluted four-conference system. The Australians kept fighting until the final whistle and despite missing out on a bonus point of their own, they did force a second yellow card to Beauden Barrett which resulted in the playmaker seeing red two minutes from time.

The Western Force are widely tipped to get the axe but the Australian Rugby Union is making no announcement yet on which franchise it will cull, with the Melbourne Rebels and Brumbies also facing speculation in recent weeks.

"Our stance is we certainly want to make sure we retain the players here before we look elsewhere".

The drastic restructure comes amid financial losses and widespread fan discontent over the confusing and unbalanced competition.

Despite the ARU board meeting on Sunday about the issue, and voting eight-to-one in favour of the reduction, chairman Cameron Clyne said no vote had been taken over which team would go.

Under the changes, Japan's Sunwolves will move into the Australian conference, South Africa will lose two teams, while New Zealand remains unchanged.

"It was awesome to get a win at home", Sunwolves captain Tim Lafaele said in a pitchside interview.

"But the tournament's long-term future and the economic reality of the business at present is something that had to be addressed".

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