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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wallabies Sign With Establishment, Abandon Breakaway WRC Group

SYDNEY -- The Australian Rugby Football Union agreed Wednesday to give players unprecedented power as part of an agreement that preserves the establishment's control of the sport and ends the threat of a takeover by the rebel World Rugby Corporation.


An ARFU statement said all the parties had agreed to "a blueprint" for the future of rugby union that would ensure the players remain aligned with the existing authorities.


The WRC, backed by Australian media magnate Kerry Packer, has effectively abandoned plans to create a breakaway competition, ending weeks of turmoil for the sport.


Leading Wallaby players will be released from their WRC contracts, the WRC said in a joint statement with the ARFU and the players.


Despite the announcement, the WRC said it would pursue actions against the New Zealand and South African rugby unions, alleging the two bodies unlawfully induced players to breach WRC contracts, the statement said.


Under the new agreement, two current Australian test players will be given seats on the ARFU's executive board, as well as seats on provincial rugby unions.


"The players are pleased that we were able to find a way to ensure that most of the changes we sought in the administration of the game, as it moved into a new stage, could in the end be accomplished within the existing structure," Australian captain Phil Kearns said in the statement.


WRC adviser Geoff Levy said his organization was determined to prevent an increasingly likely split within the players' ranks.


Levy said he hoped similar arrangements to the one agreed with the ARFU would be reached with the other rugby-playing nations.