The Australian Rugby Union and Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest have put aside their differences and are on the same page, for now, after the game’s governing body announced the establishment of a working group to help develop and work on the billionaire’s new Indo Pacific Rugby Championship.
Three weeks ago, Forrest met with ARU officials in Adelaide to try and save the Western Force’s future and left the meeting upset that the likes of chairman Cameron Clyne and director John Eales would not take accept a staggering offer of $50 million to prop up the game.
There has been no shortage of animosity between the two parties in recent weeks but it appears that has been put to the side for now as the ARU tries to capitalise on the potential financial security offered by Forrest.
ARU vice-chairman and former Wallaby Brett Robinson is set to be in charge of the group and will be assisted by key high-performance, commercial and legal representatives from the ARU’s management team.
Forrest has grand plans for the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship and it is a positive sign for Australian rugby that the game’s governing body is engaging in active dialogue as to how they can best make the competition work.
“The ARU is making a serious commitment to work in collaboration with Andrew Forrest’s team to develop the IPRC concept and will assign a small management team led by Brett Robinson to assist with the core elements of establishing the competition,” said Clyne in a statement.
“We understand the urgency on getting alignment on the key issues of calendar alignment, player contracting and player eligibility, which is why we have committed ARU resources to work through these elements as soon as possible.”
Earlier in the week, Forrest said the establishment of his competition, he hoped, would strengthen Australian rugby from the bottom up, something Clyne said the ARU was obviously committed too as well.
“There is a significant amount of detail to work through and it is critical for ARU to be able to fully understand how it can support the IPRC and ensure it plays a constructive role in building the game across the country and producing successful Wallabies and national teams,” Clyne said. “Ultimately the most important outcome is to find a solution that creates a stronger Australian rugby.
“We will also consult with others outside the management team, including coaches, to ensure that we are working towards the best outcomes from a high-performance perspective.”