Australian Rugby Union (ARU) CEO Bill Pulver has confirmed he will stand down from his role as soon as a replacement has been found, after the organisation announced its intention to cut Western Force from Super Rugby.
The ARU confirmed on Friday it plans to discontinue Force as a Super Rugby franchise from 2018 as the competition is trimmed from 18 to 15 teams, a decision that has prompted RugbyWA to consider legal action.
Pulver's five-year term had been set to end in February, but he now intends to leave at the earliest opportunity.
In a news conference, he said: "I've told the board that I will step aside as CEO once they have found a replacement.
"We're dealing with the issue of dropping a Super Rugby team and that has been a harrowing process. My sense is that it's a good time for renewal - I'm coming up towards the end of my five-year term - and I think we want a clean slate.
"The next generation of rugby in this country will be served with a new head, so I think it's the right time.
"It's been a difficult and I think that just means it's the right time for change ... a fresh set of eyes and ears coming into this game."
ARU CEO Bill Pulver fronts the media. "Incredibly tough decision to terminate the Western Force license from the 2018 Super Rugby season.— ARU HQ (@ARUhq) August 11, 2017
Pulver confirmed all contracted players at the Force will have their deals honoured, adding: "Hopefully most of them will actually find a new Super Rugby team. If they don't, we'll allow them to have an early release. If they don't want an early release, we'll still honour their contracts."
Despite expressing deep regret to those affected by the move to cut the Force, Pulver insisted "the right decision for Australian rugby" had been made, a view echoed by ARU chairman Cameron Clyne.
"It's not a very pleasant situation, but we have to confront reality here," explained Clyne.
"Our teams have declined in performance. Our performance has declined from when we went from three teams to four teams, and declined when we went to five teams. I know it's easy to say people haven't turned up to games because of uncertainty. People haven't turned up to games because the teams don't win. And there's a direct correlation to revenue.
"We have consulted widely, before the process, during the process. You will recall that an EGM was held and the members voted in support - they had an opportunity and they voted in support of four teams, so we're acting in line with what the members and stakeholders want.
"It's not going to be an easy process, but what will get revenue flowing back into the game is our teams winning. There is more chance of our teams winning with four teams, that's the reality."
22. Mai 2018
|Eli Apple embarrassed by 2017 antics, ready to move forward|
|Bills release Richie Incognito from reserve/retired list|
|Gentry and Pelicans want Cousins back in New Orleans|
|MLB extends Blue Jays closer Osuna´s administrative leave|
|Lloris, Jedinak and Kjaer ask FIFA to allow Guerrero to play at World Cup|
|Wolfsburg preserve Bundesliga status after play-off win over Kiel|
|Zidane was my idol and always will be - Wijnaldum|
|Liverpool ready to fly out of the blocks in Kiev - Henderson|
|Montreal Impact 0 LA Galaxy 1: Ibrahimovic sent off for slapping opponent|
21. Mai 2018
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Salah, Ronaldo lead the line in combined XI|
|Bertens keeps hat-trick hopes alive in Nuremberg|
|Monfils and Mannarino fail to fly the flag in Lyon|
|Morata, Fabregas, Herrera and more in Spain´s World Cup rejects XI|
|Reina to face FIGC hearing|
|Emery set to be appointed by Arsenal - reports|
|LeBron ´appreciative´ of hometown effort to put up statue of him|
|Cazorla leaves Arsenal after injury nightmare|
|Derby´s Rowett seeks permission for Stoke talks|
|Messi physically and mentally ready for the World Cup, Sampaoli proclaims|
|Murray expected to return at Rosmalen Grass Court Championships|
|More to Madrid than just Ronaldo - Robertson|
|Wolff: Red Bull and Ferrari favourites in Monaco|
|Iniesta hailed by Xavi as ´the most talented player in the history of Spain´|
|If you Googled ´European nights´, Liverpool would be top result - Klopp|
|Icardi cut from Argentina World Cup squad|
|Test recall a ´fantastic surprise´ for Buttler|
|Klopp needs Premier League to be a Liverpool great – Johnston|
|Salah is ´definitely´ world´s best - Lovren|
|Rhinos captain Watkins ruled out for eight months|
|No clue - Klopp defiant over Can to Juventus claims|
|Younis tips Babar for Pakistan greatness|
|Germany squad numbers hint at World Cup good news for Neuer|
|WATCH: Moto3 rider makes spectacular jump over crashed rival|
|Leaving out Morata ´painful´ for Spain boss Lopetegui|
|Gustard to leave England role for Harlequins|
|Nainggolan retires from Belgium duty after World Cup snub|
|Spain striker Morata misses out on World Cup selection|
|LeBron or Kawhi could lead Lakers to the Finals - World Peace|
|Serena steps up Roland Garros training ahead of French Open|
|Nainggolan left out of Belgium´s World Cup squad|
|The long goodbye: Iniesta sits alone in Camp Nou after final Barcelona match|
|Wane to leave Warriors at end of season|
|Dr Fury will see you now - Tyson plans future career in medicine|
|Harden, D´Antoni rue ´soft´ Rockets performance in Warriors drubbing|
|Liverpool players can change their lives in Kiev, says Gerrard|
|Real Madrid v Liverpool: Can great deeds of the past fuel the bid for Champions League glory?|
|Wash your mouth out! - Curry´s expletive outburst earns scolding from mother|
|Rakitic lost for words as Iniesta heads for Barcelona exit|
|Conte: Chelsea must overhaul squad to change style|
|Johnston: Liverpool can´t lose Suarez, Coutinho and Salah!|
|Messi: I like Griezmann, he´s one of the best|
|Ohtani says he´s not good enough for Home Run Derby yet|
|Mendy: France are eyeing World Cup glory|
|Scott accepts two-week ban for Walker punch|
|Braves rally for six runs in the ninth to defeat Marlins|
|MLS Review: Red Bulls upstage Atlanta thanks to Wright-Phillips brace|
|Warriors breeze past Rockets in game three|
|We have a quality squad – Man City chairman hints at caution in transfer market|
|Wise cruises to maiden PGA Tour victory at Byron Nelson|
|Matic: United can fight for Premier League and Champions League with experience|
|Golden Knights GM on Stanley Cup Finals berth: I don´t know how we did it|
|I did a ´s*** job´ defending LeBron James – Morris|
|Dembele suffers sprained right ankle|
|We know Fellaini´s not going to renew with United – Mirabelli suggests Milan move|
|Cavs´ Lue not satisfied with just one win|
|They even whistled at Torres – Simeone backs Griezmann|
|I arrived as a boy, I leave as a man – Iniesta in emotional Barcelona farewell|
|Lingard: Wembley loss my worst feeling in football|
|Cahill: Conte uncertainty affecting Chelsea|
|Sarri has run out of time – Napoli chief De Laurentiis|