Australian rugby and its leadership could be in for a radical shake-up after senior Wallabies helped force the ARU to hold a special General Meeting to shed light on the Super Rugby downsizing "fiasco".
The Rugby Union Players' Association board, which includes Wallabies captain Stephen Moore and stars such Bernard Foley, Scott Sio and Matt Hodgson, voted to support the Victorian Rugby Union's request to call an special General Meeting.
Upset by the "ongoing uncertainty and secrecy" around the Australian Rugby Union's drawn-out process to cut either the Rebels or the Force, RUPA said they want a "transparent" update from the national union.
But a special General Meeting could see the ARU board and senior leadership come under serious threat as well.
The Daily Telegraph understands discussions have been held, involving some voting members and influential Australian rugby figures, about potentially rolling the board and removing CEO Bill Pulver.
There are 16 voting members of the ARU, with the states, franchises and RUPA all getting a vote. NSW and Queensland have two each.
The ARU is required to give 21 days notice of a special General Meeting, which if issued on Thursday would fall just before the Wallabies' first Test in Melbourne on June 10.
ARU chairman Cameron Clyne said to "prevent further delays" the ARU board was willing to meet in the next seven days but given its not a special General Meeting, it would not allow members ability to vote the board's positions.
Clyne said they were keen to be as open as possible but flagged some of the answers sought on the Super Rugby saga might be restricted by ongoing legal action against it. Rugby WA are a voting member and would be at the meeting.
"We will be open as we possibly can be, within the confines of not revealing things that may be inappropriate," Clyne told the Daily Telegraph.
"But if everyone wants to get together to discuss the approach, we are more than happy to accommodate that, as soon as we can."
RUPA boss Ross Xenos said the players' decision came in times of great stress and anxiety for players in Melbourne and Perth, and those affected in other states by an ARU contracting freeze.
"The ongoing 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," Xenos said.
Questioning the ARU being reportedly prepared to spend "between six and ten million dollars" to buy and shut down the Rebels, Xenos said if it was clear there was no financial gain then Australia "should stop uppercutting itself back the retention of five teams and get on with fighting enemies outside the tent."
Clyne said he sympthasised with players, coaches and staff but that the ARU was still firm on cutting back to four teams. He said "90 per cent" of his feedback was to get to four teams.
"But it was never going to be an easy process to go from five teams to four.
"The fundamental premise is that we really believe the financial performance and the on-field performance demands four teams.
"Naturally what you have got is two teams fighting to not be that team (cut). It is incredibly frustrating that it is taking time, but when you have people going down a legal process and fighting to stay in the competition, it is going to be a difficult process."
"I have had people in WA say to me: "Australian rugby will not be successful with five teams, we just don't it to be the team to go". And I have had people in Victoria say the same thing to me."
States are likely to demand answers at the meeting on why the ARU didn't have the foresight to see the legal roadblocks when they made commitments to SANZAAR about cutting a team.
Influential critics of the ARU believe a radical upheaval is needed, with the board and senior leadership replaced and a new strategic direction taken, with five teams retained and with a future inside SANZAAR under serious scrutiny.
"I can absolutely, fully understand that (anguish)," Clyne said.