27/05/2020 - 15:09

Western Force to rejoin rugby in July

27/05/2020 - 15:09

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The Western Force has accepted an offer from Rugby Australia to participate in a proposed one-off domestic competition this year.

Western Force to rejoin rugby in July
The Super Rugby competition may begin as soon as July. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The Western Force has accepted an offer from Rugby Australia to participate in a proposed one-off domestic competition this year.

Western Force owner Andrew Forrest, who has been critical of the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) in recent years, said he wanted to ensure rugby flourished in Perth and across the country.

“My views on the mismanagement of the game under the previous Rugby Australia administration are well known,” he said in a statement.

“Change is imperative at the top for rugby to thrive long term.”

The ARU axed Western Force from the Super Rugby competition in 2018, in a bid to reduce the number of teams from six to four.

Since the axing, the Western Force have competed in alternative competitions backed by Mr Forrest, including the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship and Global Rapid Rugby in 2019.

The Force is one of five teams set to rejoin the Super Rugby competition, which could begin as soon as July, after the full rugby season was called off in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agreement will be for the 2020 season only.

Mr Forrest said he was prepared to help Rugby Australia and its new chair Hamish McLennan to get the competition going.

“Rugby Australia cannot afford to miss this opportunity to restructure and reinvent every aspect of the game – its governance, cost structure, rules, competition construct, partnerships with broadcasters, commitment to grassroots and, most importantly, engagement with fans,” Mr Forrest said.

He said the Australian sporting public deserved to see the game return to its former national prominence and international appeal.

“Until I see evidence that reinvention is at the core of any strategic plan Rugby Australia comes up with, it will be difficult to commit to a long-term investment,” Mr Forrest said.

Should the competition proceed, the Force may have to relocate to the eastern seaboard, depending on WA’s strict border closure rules at that time.

Western Force said it would continue discussions with the state government on the return of possible home games later in the year.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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