State rugby push kicks off

SPORT and Recreation Minister Bob Kucera is trying to find out how Western Australia can get a piece of the rugby action.

Last week the Australian Rugby Union floated the idea of expanding the current Super 12 competition to possibly 15 teams, including an extra one from Australia, and Mr Kucera wants that team to be based in Perth.

The Super 12 competition is currently made up of five New Zealand sides, four South African ones and three from Australia.

Mr Kucera said he believed WA had a solid case to argue why it should become the home State for the fourth Australian team.

"From our perspective the time is absolutely right to make the most of the huge momentum created by the success of Rugby World Cup 2003 and to harness the growing enthusiasm for the game," he said.

ARU supremo John O’Neill has made little secret of his desire to have rugby union become the "second" football code in the Australian Football League dominated States such as Western Australia.

By most measures, Perth was seen to make the most of the opportunities it received from the five Rugby World Cup matches played here.

The public came out in force to support the five fixtures and 84 Western Australians gave up their time, in some cases taking time off work, to assist with the running of the matches.

Rugby World Cup 2003 was a huge event for WA, bringing more than 17,600 visitors to the State and injecting more than $36 million.

"I think we have shown enormous capacity to embrace rugby and we are looking for the next opportunity to show off our new-found enthusiasm," Mr Kucera said.


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