Emergency ARU meeting over Super Rugby axe
Sydney - Australia's national governing body on Wednesday agreed to an emergency meeting after the country's top players said the game was being damaged by "the fiasco" surrounding the axing of Super Rugby teams.
The call follows an announcement in April that two South African teams and one from Australia would be cut from the southern hemisphere competition from 2018, streamlining it from 18 sides to 15.
Late Wednesday the ARU agreed to hold the meeting after a joint request from the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) and the Victorian Rugby Union (VRU).
"We will aim to hold this meeting within the next seven days," Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chairperson Cameron Clyne said in a statement.
The ARU has said either Perth-based Western Force or the Melbourne Rebels would be culled, throwing the sport into disarray and causing anger.
The Force's parent body RugbyWA has launched legal action while the Rebels have also made clear it will seek compensation if disbanded.
Australia's top players had earlier on Wednesday hit out at the ARU.
"The ARU's intent to axe an Australian Super Rugby team has lacked transparency and consultation with key stakeholders," said RUPA chief Ross Zenos.
"The on-going uncertainty and secrecy of this process continues to do unprecedented damage to the reputation of the game and has placed unacceptable distress on players and their families."
Heavy hitters on the RUPA board include Wallabies captain Stephen Moore and fellow Test stars Bernard Foley, James Slipper, and Scott Sio.
RUPA vehemently opposes any reduction to the number of Australian teams, presenting various models to the ARU for consideration by Super Rugby's governing body SANZAAR which support the retention of all five franchises.
The ARU has said the decision on which team to axe would be based on financial sustainability, performance and commercial factors.
But the fallout has been messy, with calls mounting for ARU chief executive Bill Pulver to step down over his handling of the issue.