MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Under-fire Australian Rugby Union (ARU) boss Bill Pulver has said he will resign immediately if called to do so at an extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday.
The Victorian Rugby Union and the players’ association called for the meeting last month, demanding more transparency over the ARU’s decision to cut either the Melbourne Rebels or the Perth-based Western Force from Super Rugby.
The ARU have agreed to cut one of its five Super Rugby sides as the competition contracts from 18 to 15 teams next season. South Africa have agreed to cut two teams and will announce which ones on July 7.
However, the ARU has not announced a timeframe for its decision and it has been criticized for its handling of the process, which has left players and staff in the dark since early April.
“If everyone in the room stood up on Tuesday and said, ‘Bill, we think it’s time for change now’, I will step down immediately,” Pulver told Fairfax media.
“It’s not an issue of anyone having to push me out.
“If the members of Australian rugby felt the game would be better suited with me gone, they don’t need to call an EGM.
“I will do one sports administration job in my life and it’s this one. I didn’t do one before and I won’t do one again.
“I’m here for the good of the game. If and when it’s time for me to leave, I will leave quite happily.”
The ARU has struggled to prop up five teams since the Rebels joined the competition in 2011 and on-field performances have plummeted since the New South Wales Waratahs won their maiden title in 2014.
None of the Australian sides have posted a win over New Zealand opponents this season and while the ARU hoped to make a clean swing of the axe to cut costs and consolidate playing stocks, the threat of legal action from the Rebels and Western Force stayed their hand.
“The feedback I have from virtually every state is they agree that we need to go from five to four,” Pulver said. “Most people who understand the game appreciate that we need to go from five to four.”
With grave fears already hanging over the local game, the Wallabies’ surprise 24-19 loss to Scotland in Sydney on Saturday will only add to the gloom at the EGM.
The current Super Rugby season continues next month after the June internationals wind up.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford