RugbyWA goes into voluntary administration

Nov 17, 2017 - 10:42 AM The bitter fallout from the axing of the Western Force has hit a new low, with RugbyWA forced into voluntary administration because it can't pay Rugby Australia's legal costs.

But RA has professed its innocence in the saga, saying it's merely trying to recoup money promised to it by "high net-worth individuals".

That, no doubt, is a reference to billionaire miner Andrew Forrest who promised to fund RugbyWA's legal battles against RA.

RugbyWA claims it simply doesn't have the cash to settle.

It also owes $1.14 million to the WA government for the 2009 upgrade of nib Stadium and an unspecified amount to law firm Lavan.

But it's RA's pursuit of legal costs stemming from the arbitration and Supreme Court fights with the Western Force that have brought RugbyWA to its knees after the national body won both battles.

RA (formerly the ARU) said its total legal fees associated with axing the Super Rugby franchise were $1.7 million.

They released a statement late on Friday saying they were only asking RugbyWA to pay less than a third of that.

RugbyWA has taken the drastic step of calling in advisory and investment firm KordaMentha Restructuring.

Despite the dramatic turn of events, it's highly unlikely RugbyWA will fold.

KordaMentha administrator Scott Langdon hopes to raise enough capital to hand back control to RugbyWA board before Christmas and will meet creditors, including RA, within the next fortnight.

After that, the firm will have about a month to raise enough money and renegotiate a settlement figure.

In the unlikely event RugbyWA still can't meet its debts, it will become extinct.

"If those proposals are not acceptable to creditors, then there is a potential chance that we could wind up rugby in Western Australia," Langdon said.

"But the sole purpose of the voluntary administration process is to rehabilitate and reconstruct the balance sheet so we provide a platform for the future."

RugbyWA chairman Tony Howarth says RA knew all along RugbyWA wasn't in a position to pay the legal costs.

"I think they're very aware of what they're doing," he said.

"In our mind they've been quite purposeful in what they're doing. They were certainly very purposeful in removing the Western Force.

"Some feel it's been an abandonment of rugby in WA."

But RA chief executive Bill Pulver hit back late on Friday, saying "our focus is on pursuing the high net-worth individuals that made commitments to RugbyWA to fund their legal battle and we are continuing to seek only a portion of the total costs".

Source: AAP

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