ARU rebuffs Rebels, Brumbies merger
Sydney - The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has rejected the idea of forming a merger between the Rebels and Brumbies to compete in Super Rugby.
Rebels owner Andrew Cox has welcomed discussion on the idea of a merger of his Melbourne-based and the Brumbies who are based in Canberra.
Former Wallabies coach John Connolly raised the idea and has backed the under threat Western Force to remain in the competition.
But an ARU spokesperson told AAP there had been no change in the organisation's stance that the Brumbies be excluded from discussions to reduce the participation of Australian teams from five to four in Super Rugby.
Both the Rebels and Force - the teams that are under threat - have said the ARU has no legal right to remove them after governing body SANZAAR's decision to axe one Australian and two South African Super Rugby teams.
Connolly, who also coached the Reds during the 1990s, told News Corp Australia the Brumbies were fortunate to survive the axe.
His merger proposal would see the "Melbourne Brumbies" divide their home fixtures between Melbourne and Canberra, while the Force's ability to produce homegrown talent entitled them a place in the tournament.
But Cox said no discussions had taken place with the Brumbies regarding a merger.
"It's certainly great to see someone thinking outside the box to help the ARU board find a way out of this," he told News Corp.
"But it is a matter for the ARU board and we certainly haven't had any discussions with the Brumbies."