A lack of Force weakens all Australian rugby

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    While they have provided some valid arguments, the ARU missed a fundamental aspect of why the Western Force needs to stay in the Super Rugby comp.

    It’s simple: if rugby is to grow, it needs to convert Australians to supporters of the game.

    The West has experienced significant immigration over the last 25 years, and a lot of these people came from nations with significant rugby pedigree – namely New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.

    These families settled here and produced children who have become Australians, and if left to the normal way in the West would have become AFL players and supporters.

    However, with their parents’ heritage and the strong bond that rugby creates, a lot of these children have become active in the 15-man code.

    When playing, their rugby club or school is a focal point, but if not a member of a club, then the Western Force becomes that focal point.

    Every game day, the restaurants and pubs near nib Stadium are full of supporters out in force to support their team! The ARU seems to think that West Australians will just move their support to other Australian franchises. This is not going to happen.

    With the Force gone, those immigrants will go back to supporting teams from their place of origin, likely converting their children to becoming supporters of teams that aren’t Australian – including the Wallabies. No matter how much promotion the ARU do, they will never win back the hearts and minds of those supporters.

    This decision is not just bad for West Australian rugby, it’s bad for Australian rugby as a whole.

    The only reason the Western Force membership has dropped is because we haven’t been winning enough, and the ARU are as much to blame as the Force and WARU for that. The supporters are still here but, like all supporters, they like to follow winners; they just want their team to compete strongly and win the comp once in a while!

    If rugby is to be a truly national game, then it needs to be spread around, and having four teams on the eastern seaboard is not spreading it around.

    While I do not want to get on the bandwagon of merging east coast franchises, more could have been done to reposition rugby on the east coast to make way for a team in the west.

    Think about what the game could be like in ten years if the ARU got behind the Western Force. With the help of those people that have come from nations with significant rugby playing pedigrees, rugby could become a dominant sport and not just the laggard behind AFL, NRL and A-League.

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