Rebels don't have cause, says ARU boss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rebels don't have cause, says ARU boss

By Adrian Warren 25/01/2010 08:26:41 PM Comments (0)

The Australian Rugby Union is determined not to budge over new Super team Melbourne's misgivings over its player signing window, unless the four established local teams agree to a change.

Under the current arrangement, none of the Super teams can announce signings of Australian players until the end of May, once this year's competition concludes.

The ARU implemented the rule to prevent the existing teams being disrupted during the course of the current campaign, as happened a few years back, the year before the Western Force started their Super life.

Melbourne officials are believed to be concerned the signings window could adversely affect their ability to recruit leading Australian players.

ARU boss John O'Neill revealed his organisation's high performance unit general manager David Nucifora had been holding discussions with newly appointed Melbourne head coach Rod Macqueen and assistant Damien Hill about proposals on the subject, but stressed it was the other four Australian Super teams rather than the ARU who would determine any changes.

"We wouldn't budge unless the other four franchises agreed to us budging, because this is not the ARU, this is Australian Rugby and where we've got to is through the consultation process with the other four teams.

"If the other four teams don't want any wriggle room, there won't be any wriggle room.

"Our job is to look after all of Australian rugby, not just Melbourne and the setting up of the Melbourne Rebels," O'Neill told reporters on Monday.

"We can't afford that to be the excessive detriment of the other four teams.

"We are in good dialogue with Melbourne, it's great to have sensible people there now that we can talk to.

"If you speak to the four CEOs of the four other franchises, they are very comfortable with the (signing window) decision."

O'Neill described the Rebels' early appointments of Macqueen, Hill, chief executive Brian Waldron and recruiting officer Greg Harris as "fabulous".

"I think they are enlightened appointments" O'Neill said.

O'Neill stressed the signing window didn't stop Melbourne talking to players and their agents before it opened.

"For some time they were speaking to players when they didn't even have the (Super) license," O'Neill said.

"It's a bit hard to take the moral high ground when you are out there without even the authority to speak (to players)."

Debate raged in the Australian community last year over whether winning or entertaining was more important, with players and coaches indicating the former.

However, O'Neill stressed the two were not mutually exclusive.

"I have trouble understanding how a coach can say `our job is not to entertain, our job is just to win'. The nature of mass entertainment sport, which is what we are, is the word entertainment," O'Neill said.

"We've hit the bottom and every one of the four (Super) teams is determined to deliver winning and entertaining rugby."

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