Sydney - Australia's top players on Wednesday demanded an emergency meeting of the national governing body, saying the game was being damaged by "the fiasco" surrounding the axing of Super Rugby teams.
The call follows an announcement in April that two South African teams and one from Australia would be cut from the southern hemisphere competition from 2018, streamlining it from 18 sides to 15.
The Australian Rugby Union has said either Perth-based Western Force or the Melbourne Rebels would be culled, throwing the sport into disarray and causing anger.
The Force's parent body RugbyWA has launched legal action
while the Rebels have also made clear it will seek compensation if disbanded.
With no end in sight, the Rugby Union Players' Association
(RUPA) agreed on Wednesday to join the Victorian Rugby Union (VRU) in seeking a
special general meeting of the ARU.
Under the ARU's constitution, such a meeting must be held if
requested by two voting members, potentially bringing the crisis to a head.
"The ARU's intent to axe an Australian Super Rugby team
has lacked transparency and consultation with key stakeholders," said RUPA
chief Ross Zenos in a statement.
"Today's unanimous RUPA board resolution illustrates
the commitment of players from all across the country to take action towards a
constructive solution to this on-going fiasco.
"The on-going uncertainty and secrecy of this process
continues to do unprecedented damage to the reputation of the game and has
placed unacceptable distress on players and their families."
Heavy hitters on the RUPA board include Wallabies captain
Stephen Moore and fellow Test stars Bernard Foley, James Slipper, and Scott
RUPA vehemently opposes any reduction to the number of
Australian teams, presenting various models to the ARU for consideration by
Super Rugby's governing body SANZAAR which support the retention of all five
The ARU has said the decision on which team to axe would be
based on financial sustainability, performance and commercial factors.
But the fallout has been messy, with calls mounting for ARU chief executive Bill Pulver to step down over his handling of the issue.