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Perth named as Australia’s fourth Super 14 team

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The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced Friday that Perth will host the fourth Australian team in a Super 14 competition to begin in the 2006 season.

The Perth team will join Australia’s three others in the current Super 12 competition — ACT Brumbies, NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds.

The ARU said the new team, based on submissions provided by Rugby West Australia, would be located in the state capital and play matches at Subiaco Oval in its first year and at Members Equity Stadium from 2007.

Perth, on Australia’s west coast on the Indian Ocean, beat a big-money bid from Australia’s second-biggest city Melbourne for the right to become the fourth Australian franchise.

ARU chairman Bob Tuckey said the Victorian and the Western Australian rugby unions and their respective state governments had provided outstanding submissions.

“This is an historic day for rugby in Australia. The board is unanimous in its view that a Super 14 team based in Perth will be an enormous success and will make an enduring contribution to Australian rugby,” Tuckey said in a statement.

“The board was faced with an extremely complex decision based on detailed analysis of two compelling bids. Each had great merit but only one could be chosen on this occasion.”

ARU managing director Gary Flowers said that no single criteria determined the outcome, but rather the submissions were judged across a range of points.

“High performance, commercial and developmental issues were rigorously examined…. In this regard, the Perth case had the edge,” Flowers said.

“The view of the board is that Perth will provide a conducive environment to produce high performance rugby players with regard to the combination of excellent playing and training facilities, climate and lifestyle,” he said.

“The support program for the players and their families was such that they will be located in a tight-knit community, close to their training base with excellent community facilities also contributing to a lifestyle conducive to a successful professional sporting team.

“These are important factors for success,” he said.

The board believed the Perth team would be “warmly embraced” by the Western Australian community, Flowers said.

“There is a strong and established rugby community in Perth that will provide a bedrock for this team.”

He said both submissions were commercially “very sound in their own right”.

“Rugby will continue to grow in Victoria and the ARU is committed to bringing Test match rugby to Melbourne, particularly in the context of an expanded Tri Nations Series from 2006,” he said.

The Subiaco Oval would be used while the Members Equity Stadium was upgraded to a 22,000-seat capacity for 2007 and beyond, he said. The stadium could be further expanded to 35,000 if the need arose.

A management team, comprising representatives of the Rugby Western Australia and the ARU, is to be appointed shortly with its first task to employ a chief executive.

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