Super Rugby

Rebels assistant coach slams 'disgraceful' ARU

Morgan Turinui (Gallo)
Morgan Turinui (Gallo)

Melbourne - Rebels assistant coach Morgan Turinui has criticised the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) over the delay to axe an Australian Super Rugby team.

Turinui, a former Wallabies, Waratahs and Reds centre, said the Rebels players are suffering psychologically due to the constant uncertainty about the franchise's future and their jobs.

The Rebels back-line coach also blasted the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) and even Rebels owner Andrew Cox for disappointing the club's players and staff at the Rebels.

The Western Force and Rebels are the two Australian teams in the firing line after SANZAAR revealed last month that two South African and one Australian franchise will be axed from the competition.

But after it was initially expected that the ARU would make a decision within days on who to axe of the Force and Rebels, neither side have any clarity regarding their Super Rugby futures.

And Turinui said no one from the ARU has spoken to the players about their futures although the RUPA's chief executive, Ross Xenos, met players on Tuesday.

Xenos he has also visited the Rebels twice before and been in weekly contact with senior players.

"They have had no one from the ARU come down to talk to them, to reassure them and RUPA have been non-existent outside of their petition to SANZAAR on social media to keep five teams," Turinui told the Canberra Times.

"That's all well and good but they have 40 percent of their under extreme duress, 20 percent who could lose their jobs so RUPA need to step up.

"The way the ARU has handled this is an absolute disgrace."

Turinui praised Cox's assertiveness during the early stages of the drawn out saga after he met with everyone at the Rebels and gave them the assurance that he would not sell the club back to the ARU if they were to be shut down.

Initially, there were reports that Cox had started legal action against the ARU for damaging the Rebels' earnings but it has also been reported recently that the ARU are trying to buy him out although he has not commented on this.

"Andrew Cox looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said the Rebels will be here for years to come," added Turinui.

"The exhausting thing is these rumours continue to circulate and yes it is part of the media's role to report on the rumours going around but the fear in our team at the moment is there is some truth to the rumours.

"We just don't know.

"But from what we have been told [by Cox] we are the most safe club because we have a private owner who will not sell to the ARU but the issue I have with our players is they read the media and they are being debilitated.

"We have mental health issues and worries with our players, we have been pretty focused on making their wellbeing paramount and this has just made that situation very hard for our players."

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