5 May 2017

Resignation of leading ARU official could slow Super Rugby reform

9:46 am on 5 May 2017

The cutting of an Australian side from the super rugby compeition could be further delayed with the resignation of a leading official from the Australian rugby union.

The ARU's Rob Clarke, who's been a central figure in the process of axing either the Melbourne Rebels or Western Force, has announced he's standong down.

Clarke had been working closely with ARU boss Bill Pulver in the delicate operation, as well as liaising with the Rebels and Force since the two franchises were confirmed last month as being in the firing line.

ARU's Rob Clarke

ARU's Rob Clarke Photo: Photosport

It was hoped that the naming of the two South African franchises and one Australian club to go would take place at a SANZAAR meeting in Tokyo next Wednesday.

But the saga shows no sign of ending.

Both the Force and Rebels maintain the ARU has no right to remove their teams in SANZAAR's downsizing to a 15-team tournament, with WA Rugby having commenced legal action and the Melbourne club seeking compensation.

Clarke, who endured criticism from the West Australian franchise in recent weeks around his former links to the Rebels and Brumbies, had been considered a future CEO of the embattled national body.

Clarke, who has declined to comment on his decision until the Super Rugby futures of the Rebels and the Force are known, will end his time with the ARU in June.