How the west was lost – and won

Daren Weippert Roar Rookie

By Daren Weippert, Daren Weippert is a Roar Rookie

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    Let’s be clear: the ARU was always going to make the wrong decision. This is sadly not a surprise, but it demonstrates the lack of vision and courage that exists within the ARU.

    Today the ARU unintentionally committed a strong act of patriotism by cutting the Western Force.

    The Australian southern capitals have a long history of embracing our unique indigenous game of Australian rules football. Before the AFL emerged to unite almost all of the Australian states with representative teams in a national competition, Victoria, the birth place of Aussie Rules; Tasmania; South Australia; and Western Australia already had their own professional leagues for the great Australian sport.

    Today, in a move that can only be described as short-sighted, the ARU decided to make an ERU-centric decision – ERU meaning ‘eastern rugby union’, which is what West Australians, when they bother to mention it at all, will now call the ARU – and cut the Western Force out of the competition.

    Champagne corks must have been flying all over the AFL offices in Docklands, as this was surely a major victory for our unique domestic football code, hence the act of ‘patriotism’.

    This is a momentous win for the AFL, who have been spending tens of millions of dollars Australia-wide to ensure that their brand of football, Aussie rules, was number one in the hearts, minds and, most importantly, the wallets of all Australians. Thanks to the ARU’s decision to cut the Western Force and alienate that entire state, blackening their hearts and minds against rugby, the AFL can once again take solace that they remain the dominant football code in WA.

    Recently both Western Australia AFL franchises have featured in AFL grand finals and a new AFL stadium in Perth is scheduled to open for the 2018 AFL season, so with the ARU turning their backs on the people of Western Australia, who had spent over a decade building passion and support for their team and for rugby at the grassroots level, they can all forget about rugby union and go back to comfortably supporting the one footy code that they love – and the sport whose governing body loves them right back.

    Many who believe the Melbourne Rebels should have been cut because rugby will never be the number one sport in Victoria are wrong. They’re not wrong about rugby never being the top sport there – it never will be – but that is superficial reasoning.

    Rugby does not need to be the top sport code in each state, but it does need to be a viable option. The Force should stay so that kids growing up in WA have a team to aspire to as they progress through grassroots rugby in their home state. The same goes for Victoria – kids in Victoria need to have that professional side to aspire to.

    Having the current Wallabies play in Perth and Melbourne and visit for clinics will continue with more notoriety if there is a professional team in these cities to serve as the conduit. What Australian rugby does not need is two teams in the New South Wales catchment, including the ACT, if Western Australia or Victoria don’t have even one.

    (Image: Will Russell/Getty Images)

    What the ARU needed to do – and what it was never going to do – was cut the Brumbies.

    Yes, they are the most successful side in Australian rugby history, but who cares? The media, the ARU and sporting officials nationwide tell us daily that we need to keep our hearts in check because in the 21st century sport is a business.

    The Melbourne Rebels, until some recent slick dealing, were privately owned, playing in a nice new(ish) stadium and not costing the ARU anything. The Western Force are backed by the Western Australia government and a local billionaire. Companies are lining up to open their wallets and offer sponsorship money to the Waratahs, and the Reds seem to be on solid financial footing.

    That brings us to the Brumbies, who are perpetually tap dancing on the edge of financial ruin. Their stadium is a lick of mud between two dirt mounds with some bleacher seats on two sides, woefully outdated and clearly inaccessible to Brumbies fans since they couldn’t even get there to sell out a recent Super Rugby final against the Hurricanes.

    If these first two facts were not enough of a sign that the Brumbies are cooked – and disposable – the third should have been the nail in their coffin. ow can the ARU overlook that level of antipathy for the Brumbies and instead cut loose the passionate Western Force supporters?

    The Brumbies could easily have been cut and nobody would have cared – and by nobody I mean only the smallest percentage of the Australian rugby ticket-buying public. Sure, George Gregan would be on Kick and Chase every week railing against it, and Rod Kafer would have to be put on suicide watch, as he tears up anytime a penalty is called against the Wallabies or Brumbies in a match, but other than them there would be no major drawbacks.

    So the Brumbies couldn’t sell out a home final against a New Zealand rival, one of the most exciting teams in the world to watch play, and the Brumbies ‘faithful’ couldn’t even be bothered to come out to support their team in their home stadium. The ACT isn’t that big; they can’t hide behind the excuse of it being too far to drive to the game. No, they only have their lack of interest, their lack of passion, to point to as the reason that their home final was not sold out and heaving with Brumbies supporters. Shame!

    But the ARU took what they perceived as the easy way out and cut the team in Western Australia. As long as they don’t venture west of the Blue Mountains, they will never have to look a Western Force fan in the face – they can stay safely tucked in their Sydney offices and pretend that the Western Force never existed, and down in Melbourne, among the offices currently filled by the sound of popping champagne corks and joyous slaps on the back, the AFL is hoping that West Australians will forget that the ARU ever existed, too.

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    The Crowd Says (51)

    • August 12th 2017 @ 4:30am
      matt jones said | August 12th 2017 @ 4:30am | ! Report

      explain to me how are bunch of experienced and well educated , trained administrators have no vision but he amateur keyboard warriors on the roar seem to have it?

      maybe its not as simple as every biased “expert” claim it is?

      • August 12th 2017 @ 5:33am
        Jeff Morris said | August 12th 2017 @ 5:33am | ! Report

        It is inexplicable but seems to be the case.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 11:14am
        Jibba Jabba said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Because they do – the aru are f..wits

      • August 12th 2017 @ 1:09pm
        Rob Sinclair said | August 12th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        its all about advertising money. Western Australia does not create advertising money nationally and Victoria does.


        money talks.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 5:05pm
          Waz said | August 12th 2017 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

          yeah but the author was going after the ACT

        • August 12th 2017 @ 5:41pm
          AK said | August 12th 2017 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

          As if, Rob…advertising is national and international. Another clueless Melbourne comment that shows there is really no substance to the ARU’s decision.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 1:59pm
        Ben said | August 12th 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

        Believe it buddy.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 5:39pm
        Yeats said | August 12th 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

        The problem is that there is absolutely no transparency at all in this debacle. #showusthespreadsheet

      • August 12th 2017 @ 8:46pm
        RahRah said | August 12th 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

        Have a look at your well educated and trained chairmans track record at the NAB.

        • August 13th 2017 @ 11:00am
          justin lynch said | August 13th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          Ironic? didn’t Michael Chaney pick him because Fahour was too “prickly” Ahmed Fahour played Aussie rules.

      • Roar Rookie

        August 13th 2017 @ 3:15pm
        jonnyacidseed said | August 13th 2017 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

        Matt, so,im assuming you have the same view for our “well educated experienced ” politicians too?

    • August 12th 2017 @ 4:45am
      matt jones said | August 12th 2017 @ 4:45am | ! Report

      the brumbies have produced 10 times the players that WA has produced. ANd as fr the title, the west was never won. barely had a winning season

      • August 12th 2017 @ 6:54am
        kkovak said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:54am | ! Report

        Any home grown players from the Brumbies ? WA had many more than ever came from the ACT . you need to compare like with like . Anyway all I can say is good luck to the ARU . I will certainly not spend a cent in any way to support Rugby and that includes buying over priced tickets to any Wallabies games .

        • August 12th 2017 @ 11:19am
          Leftarc said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

          Brett Robinson, Matt Giteau, Rod Kafer, George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Jeremy Paul, Joe Roff, Julian Huxley, Owen Finegan, Joe Powell, Ben Alexander, and so on and so on.
          Whilst I am sad that the Force got cut (my opinion is that no team should of gotten cut, and if forced to choose, it’s a coin toss between the Rebels and the Waratahs) your article does not help anyone.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 12:13pm
          DaveJ said | August 12th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

          Home grown players from the ACT comp? David Campese, George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Joe Roff, Rod Kafer, Mark Chisholm, Joe Powell, Faia and Anthony Faingaa, Matt Giteau, Ricky Stuart before he went to League. Plus quite a few Brumbies.
          So several legends vs….Dane Haylett-Petty?

          The ACT won the national schools comp this year, so must still be some kind of nursery.

          Not that I wouldnt have kept the Force. at least it has some kind of distinctive local roots. Rebels should have got the axe.

          • August 12th 2017 @ 5:50pm
            John said | August 12th 2017 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

            Mark Chisholm is from Brisbane

            • August 13th 2017 @ 7:07pm
              stagman said | August 13th 2017 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

              Once again the Brumbies claiming someone from somewhere else.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 6:54am
        Chooks said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:54am | ! Report

        Is there a reason you’re so bitter? The Brumbies are a better team than the Force, yes. However, they have also been around since 1996.
        Your comparison isn’t a fair one.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 10:09am
        rebel said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        Thats great Matt, it is good that Australia has a nursery in ACT. Wouldn’t it be good to have one in the West as well.

      • August 13th 2017 @ 5:53pm
        stagman said | August 13th 2017 @ 5:53pm | ! Report

        I think you mean, the Brumbies have taken more players from other states and teams….. The original ACT Brumbies were a team of the players NSW (Syd) and QLD did not want.
        Bruce Stadium is a venue owned the partially by the Australian Sports commission and affiliated with the AIS, so in actual fact the Brumbies are a team of nobodies using the Aus taxpayers facilities.
        Looks like the Brumbies are only the most successful at being a club with everyone’s elses resources and a few of there own.

        • August 14th 2017 @ 6:29am
          Ross said | August 14th 2017 @ 6:29am | ! Report

          Okay Stagnant, it’s clear you don’t know the first thing about the ACT – other than you hate it of course! I heard that the Force – in a much larger state – still had to take a few players from NSW and QLD too, right? And as for ACT taking other players, if NSW don’t want them, what does it matter? Canberra has the elite program to turn them in to better players. Brumbies had a very weak squad this year and still easily topped Australia and lost 3 games to NZ teams by 6pts or less. Your claim that the stadium is owned by the Australian Sports Commission is true but a bit of a furphy – ownership just transferred back to ACT this year after a peppercorn lease arrangement where Canberra took over management and spent millions on upgrades over the years. Most of the players come from Sydney to get better or because Brumbies will go very them a chance the Tahs won’t. Or they come from Southern NSW – Queanbeyan is 15km West, Yass is 59km NE and Goulburn, Crookwell and Cooma are close. For anybody who has actually been here, you’ll see it’s very much one region… it’s not like there’s a fence at the ACT border! These surrounding cities and towns play in the John I Dent Cup and receive funding from ACT Rugby Union, not NSW. My club Wests just beat QBN Whites in a Qualifying Final last week. And these nobodies still make the best Super Rugby team in Australia!

          • August 14th 2017 @ 8:00pm
            stagman said | August 14th 2017 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

            So the 15 home grown players in the Force and the players from elsewhere in Aus, get a chance to play SR, but everyone in the east seems to forget that the Force has contributed as much to the Eastern states players as it has to growing WA rugby.
            Like the Brumbies, we too are a bunch of nobodies just with even less ARU backing each year.
            The Force and the WA state government also contributed to NIB Stadium upgrade. Together with the Perth Glory soccer team the Force have a very good facility.
            The Force also have an elitie pathway for developing local talent and its starting to work.
            How would you guys feel if the ARU shut down your team and simply said, “if you want play SR move to Sydney………………”
            Maybe the Force and the Brumbies are more alike than we think……although I get the feeling we all hate the Waratahs equally.
            As for your team this year, sorry but Brumbies rugby under Larkam is about as interesting as bowell cancer. The Brumbies would not have got close to the Force if they had met at the end of this season.

    • August 12th 2017 @ 7:23am
      Milan said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      Oh come on Darren you are better than that. You’ve fallen into the same trap as everybody else. Where are all these masses of ‘passionate’ force fans when it comes to matchday? Where are they when it comes to watching the force on our tv screens? Where?

      • August 12th 2017 @ 2:05pm
        Ben said | August 12th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

        Right here

    • August 12th 2017 @ 7:25am
      Milan said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      Oh come on Darren you are better than that. You’ve fallen into the same trap as everybody else. Where are all these masses of ‘passionate’ force fans when it comes to matchday? Where are they when it comes to watching the force on our tv screens? Where?

    • August 12th 2017 @ 9:38am
      Mark said | August 12th 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      Actually this is the courageous decision

      The weak one would be to keep all 5 teams when they couldn’t be afforded and they diluted the talent and effectiveness of the game in Aussie

      You can blame this mess on John O’Neil – not the current lot

      You should never have expanded

      You did twice

      Ever since you have got worse and worse

      • August 12th 2017 @ 8:17pm
        Billy said | August 12th 2017 @ 8:17pm | ! Report

        Rugby WA should also take part of the blame. Its was too little too late this year in winning a “silver medal” with results. I wouldn’t trust them in drafting up legal documents for my business.

    • August 12th 2017 @ 10:03am
      Snob said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      well done to the FUARU! You have just put a stop on much more home grown talent coming out of the west. Grass roots will now start drying up with out the likes of Hodgo, Adam and Tafs to look up too. These guys would be at home games for the kids weekend after weekend and now nothing!
      You have lost so much. You will never see another cent from me and many others. I will never support an Australian rugby team again! I will even cheer on the Darkness. Stuff the Wallabies!

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