It’s time to remind Twiggy who Forced court action

Will Knight Columnist

By , Will Knight is a Roar Expert

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    When Curtis Rona likened Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest to Donald Trump earlier this week, was it because he thinks he’s the man to bring the “fire and fury” to the Western Force’s fight for survival?

    » WESTERN FORCE AXED FROM SUPER RUGBY

    I can only assume that’s what he meant – along with, perhaps, other characteristics such as a massive bank account – and the Force centre wasn’t alluding to plummeting popularity or his recent loose encounters with the truth.

    But Twiggy’s performance on Sydney radio on Tuesday was a bit disjointed, a touch Trump-like maybe?

    The billionaire Force saviour, it seems, isn’t a fan of litigation.

    “Let’s just make a decision on what’s best for the game,” Forrest said on 2GB.

    “Litigation is not leadership. Litigation is a very weak form – I think almost a cowardly form – of getting any agreement done. It’s the last resort.”

    Well, it should be noted that it was Rugby WA that initiated court proceedings in April after the ARU announced either the Force or the Melbourne Rebels would be axed in a reshaped Super Rugby competition in 2018.

    Rugby WA won an injunction based on an agreement with the ARU that was signed in 2016 when the Force were battling financially.

    So Twiggy believes that the arbitration, the results of which are yet to be announced, wasn’t necessary.

    “I just wanted the ARU to sit down and talk and ask: what do you need out of rugby?” said Forrest.

    “Do you need a really strong support base? Do you need a fabulous grassroots growing movement? Do you need a crop of Wallabies who are being grown in their home state? Do you need a growing crowd? Do you need a sea of supporters? Do you need to know a membership base is growing faster than anywhere else?

    “Well, if they’re all your criteria then the last team you would bump off the list is the Western Force.”

    But the absurdity of this is that given the Force’s financial frailties, the ARU’s intervention meant they were well aware of the club’s vital statistics and their standing in AFL-mad Perth.

    That also goes for the Rebels, who, before being sold to Andrew Cox’s Imperium Group, were bleeding money and needed propping up by the ARU.

    The governing body was very familiar with the Rebels’ financials, which wouldn’t have improved too much – if at all – in the intervening time.

    The financial predicament the two clubs have endured and continue to struggle with is, along with failing to make a significant impression on-field, why they’re on the chopping block.

    (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

    So Twiggy points out that leadership isn’t about litigation, but it’s the legal threats and ongoing action that’s delaying a decision; a decision that players, coaches, officials and fans want expedited so they can prepare accordingly.

    Which is fair enough. But everyone needs to understand who’s causing the delays.

    Twiggy is the perfect man to be heading the PR campaign for the Force as well as giving his backing to any action in the Supreme Court, a course that has been floated if the club lose to the ARU in arbitration.

    He’s undoubtedly influential and knows how to get deals done. And the ARU would be keen to keep him in the game, regardless of him coming to the party at a very late hour. The money involved in rugby union in Western Australia would be minuscule compared to what Twiggy deals with in the mining industry, but winning hearts and minds in the community is priceless.

    If Forrest is apparently like Trump, then Rugby WA chairman Tony Howarth would have you believe the ARU is being run by Barron Trump.

    “We won’t be done in by a group of people sitting in Sydney who think they understand the running of the game when they’ve been so fundamentally bad that people don’t want to go to Test matches any more,” he said.

    “They can’t start blaming others for that. There comes a point when they have to take the blame.”

    Rich coming from a club that has few excuses in a 12-season lifespan in which they haven’t once made the Super Rugby finals and have been propped up financially along the way.

    The ARU need to proceed even as the bills mount. The alternative – not cutting an Australian side – would most likely be a lot more costly if the South African Rugby Union came for compensation.

    Will Knight
    Will Knight

    An AAP writer for more than a decade, Will Knight does his best to make sense of all things cricket, rugby union and rugby league, all while trying to have a laugh along the way. You can find him on Twitter @WKnightrider.

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