Rebels players huddle before the start of the Round 10 Super Rugby match against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.
Rebels players huddle before the start of the Round 10 Super Rugby match against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland. DAVID ROWLAND

Rebels slam ARU over axe threats

THE fired-up Rebels are seeking compensation and have slammed the Australian Rugby Union in a strongly worded statement following their attempts to cut an Aussie Super Rugby team.

The ARU announced on Monday that either the Melbourne-based Rebels or the Perth-based Force would be cut from next year's reduced 15-team competition, stating that the current five-team Australian model was unsustainable both financially and in terms of on-field performance.

But the already messy situation now appears almost certain to be decided by lawyers, with the Force lodging a writ with the Western Australian Supreme Court, and the Rebels reserving all legal rights and seeking compensation.

Adding to the complicated scenario, the Force are currently being run by the ARU while the Rebels are privately owned.

Initially, all indications were that the Force would be the Australian team cut but the lengthy, hard-hitting statement from the Rebels on Friday night indicates they are also feeling the heat.

Put simply, the Rebels claim the ARU have no legal grounds to axe them from Super Rugby, which they have participated in since 2011.

Rebels owner Andrew Cox had already complained that the ARU's handling of the situation had caused massive damage to the club - a point that was expanded upon in the media release.

At Monday's press conference, the ARU said it hoped to resolve the matter within 48-72 hours, following consultation with the Force and Rebels, but chairman Cameron Clyne was forced to backtrack on that optimistic statement the following day.

The Rebels have claimed that the ARU had previously assured them of their safety but Clyne denied that in an interview with Fox Sports' Kick & Chase on Tuesday.

Former Wallabies coach Alan Jones called for the entire ARU board to resign in a fiery interview with Clyne on Wednesday.

The Rebels, winless in 2017, host the Australian conference leading Brumbies on Saturday night.

News Corp Australia

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