RUGBY

Matt Hodgson calls for ARU board cleanout

Matt Hodgson calls for ARU board cleanout
Western Force great Matt Hodgson has called on the ARU board to resign after axing his former club.

Western Force great Matt Hodgson has called for the remaining ARU board members to fall on their swords following their decision to axe the Perth-based Super Rugby franchise.

The Force are facing rugby extinction following the ARU's decision on Friday to cull the team, but the franchise has vowed to take the matter to the courts.

Led by billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest, the Force are in the process of applying for an injunction, and they hope to take the dispute to the Supreme Court.

Former RugbyWA chairman Geoff Stooke was the only ARU board member opposed to axing the Force.

Stooke labelled the ARU's decision to axe the Force as 'biased', and he quit his post in disgust.

He said it was an outrageous decision to retain the Rebels given they had cost the ARU around $17.5 million in additional costs compared to the Force's $5.5 million.

'An appropriate consultation process was never in place and in my view the Western Force was always being targeted for removal,' Stooke wrote in his resignation letter.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver has already announced he will step down once a replacement for him is found.

Chief operations manager Rob Clarke and chief financial officer Todd Day resigned from their positions earlier this year.

But ARU chairman Cameron Clyne has indicated he will stay the course.

Hodgson said it was well overdue to clear the decks and start afresh.

'I think it should have been cleared probably when this drama started. They put rugby in a pretty bad position,' Hodgson said.

'It would be good to see a cleanout.

'They talk about a national blueprint. But if you cut out half of Australia, how could it be a national competition?'

Fellow Force great Nathan Sharpe also wants to see a broom swept through the ARU, describing the decision to axe his former side as disgraceful.

Sharpe said if he was tasked with the job of rebuilding Australian rugby, the Force would be one of the first strongholds he would have on his side.

Forrest has vowed to do everything within his powers to ensure the franchise survives.

He has even told the ARU that he would bankroll any potential future losses by the Force if they were allowed to stay in the competition.

Forrest said the ARU's decision was a gross injustice.

'The three people who are the architect of this decision inside the ARU have resigned. I don't blame them for that,' Forrest said.

If the Force's appeal application is denied, their legal avenues will have been exhausted.

But Forrest hinted that might not be the end of it.

'There's no good plan A without a good plan B. I've just got to work that out,' he said.

AAP