The sun goes down in the west – a dark day for Australian rugby

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    The longest 72 hours in the history of Australian rugby has ended with the ARU finally announcing that it will “discontinue” the Force as the Super Rugby competition reverts to 15 teams from 2018.

    If this was to mark the end of one of the sorriest chapters in Australian rugby that would be bad enough, but the likelihood for Australian rugby fans is that there is still a way to go before things bottom out completely. For one, the prospect of Wallabies stepping out next Saturday into a half-full ANZ Stadium to be spanked yet again by the All Blacks is hardly going to lighten the mood.

    Force fans – and many others from all around the country – took to all forms of social media yesterday to register their disgust at the decision. We saw anger that is palpable and understandable.

    Rugby in Western Australia continues to make strong progress, and it is inconceivable that this decision by the ARU to cut that off at the knees, can be made with any expectation that parents, club members and casual supporters of the game will not reconsider their emotional and financial commitment to the game.

    History shows that, in similar circumstances, once the fog clears and the bitterness eventually subsides, most fans find a way to reconcile with their sport – if not with the organisation or individuals who they feel have wronged them. But that day feels like a long, long way away right now.

    Bill Pulver announcing that he is going to step down as CEO of the ARU may help placate some angry fans, although that doesn’t make the outcome any easier to stomach. Pulver was likely close to the end of his tenure anyway and, once he has stayed around long enough to cop the brunt of the flak, this does seem like an opportune time to allow somebody new to start the rebuilding process – assuming that there is a suitably qualified sports administrator anywhere in the world willing to take on the poisoned chalice that is Australian rugby.

    One thing Pulver said at yesterday’s press conference – “simply this is the right decision for Super Rugby” – reinforces that what is at the heart of the decision, is what is being missed in the emotion of the reaction.

    Australian rugby and Super Rugby are two entirely different things. Yet they have become intertwined to the extent that a decision made to benefit a competition that comprises five competing nations, has earth-shattering consequences to the domestic fabric of one of those nations, Australia.

    In short, this announcement, and the reverberations around it, can be seen as ‘payday’ for Australian rugby failing to develop its own domestic professional competition.

    While it is Pulver and ARU Chairman Cameron Clyne who now cop all of the blame, a good deal of it might be better shared with John O’Neill and the administration that shut down the ARC after only one season in 2007 – ironically in times when Australian rugby still had a little bit of money in the bank.

    A national domestic competition was needed back then as it is today but, as ever in Australian rugby, parochial state interest proved too big a hurdle to overcome. That the same argument is still run today, by self-interested Sydney and Brisbane clubs, that they, and not a truly national state or franchise competition, are the rightful ‘second tier’, speaks volumes for the deep rooted animosity that exists within the code. It shows the willingness for participants to point fingers at each other instead of coming together for the common good.

    This is not just rugby’s problem by the way. This year we have seen the Australian Olympic movement, cricket, rugby league, AFL, netball and football all wage vicious civil war over matters of governance and/or salaries. It is the Australian way to bicker and challenge city hall, and rugby is not exempt.

    Bill Pulver Cameron Clyne press conference

    (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

    In the absence of a developed, domestic professional competition, Australian rugby lacks the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances and engineer outcomes that don’t carry such high, ‘winner takes all’ stakes. Note how in the English Premiership, Bristol were relegated at the end of this season – at face value a disaster for their club – but in fact they are already planning for their return in 2018-19, and this week announced the signing of Charles Piutau for a reported £1m per season, making him the highest paid player in world rugby.

    For the Force however there is no such luxury. It is all or nothing. Which is why fans, and lovers of the game around Australia, are today hurting so badly.

    Also a misconception is the framing of this situation as a Force versus Rebels stand-off. In reality, it was never thus. Once the ARU determined that a side had to be cut, and that it was to be the Force, the Rebels were only ever window dressing and a bit of insurance if it turned out later that the Force couldn’t be shifted.

    There are of course valid arguments as to why the Rebels should have been chosen instead, just as it is easy for many of those protesting today to forget their views about Force rugby during Michael Foley’s tenure as coach.

    Matt Philip Western Force Rugby Union Super 2017

    (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

    Emboldened by the support of Andrew Forrest, there are also many who will wake today believing that the Force still won’t be moved, and indications are that an injunction to prevent the ARU from taking this action will be sought. Any such court action however, will have a very limited shelf-life. Who can blame players seeking certainty over where they will play their rugby next year, and once one or two start to confirm signings elsewhere, whatever happens in a court over the following months won’t really matter.

    Ever since the ARU went public with the plan to revert to four Super rugby teams, the main reason touted has been “financial considerations.” These considerations are two-pronged –
    firstly the cost to the ARU of maintaining five unsuccessful franchises, and secondly, the potential cost to Australian rugby and SANZAAR of not acceding to their broadcast partner’s wishes.

    The harsh reality of professional sport is that, in order to fund the operation of game and pay the players, money has to be generated from somewhere. In the case of rugby, the predominant revenue source is broadcast rights. Unfortunately, Australian rugby has no capacity on its own to generate anything like the revenue required to sustain the game – at amateur or professional level.

    Thus Australia’s fortunes are inextricably intertwined with SANZAAR’s. And if the broadcasters who are funding SANZAAR – read keeping the game afloat in the southern hemisphere – demand action, then it is action they must get, no matter how unpalatable to local fans.

    To that extent, the seeds in yesterday’s announcement were sewn long ago in the boardrooms of cashed up clubs in France and England, and in the broadcast deals struck for the Top 14 and English Premiership, which have translated into enormous financial pressure being placed on the ARU.

    Those whose initial reaction is to demand replacement of the ‘incompetents’ on the ARU executive and board, might ask themselves, ‘with who exactly’? Administrators from the other sports listed above, who are labeled similarly, by fans and players within those sports?

    Or by new rugby people who will have to make tough decisions faced with the same external circumstances and the same meagre financial resources?

    While the ARU can be excused for being subject to global economic realities that are out of its control, they can be fairly blamed for two massive blunders, one of which has made this situation far worse than what it should have been, and the other which represents a huge opportunity lost for the wellbeing of the game in the future.

    The ARU knew that this day was coming a long time ago, certainly at some time during 2016. It should have ripped the band-aid off during the off-season and done so secure in the knowledge that they were on solid legal footing. The damage done to this year’s Super Rugby competition and to the goodwill of the game has been far greater than it needed to be as a result of this failing.

    In a time when money for the game is so scarce it is also unfathomable how they have made an enemy of Australia’s wealthiest man. It is true that Andrew Forrest entered the debate late in the day, but his support and liking for rugby – and his willingness to be a benefactor for causes he sees as just – has been no secret.

    Another administration might well have found a way to have had Forrest at a table long before now, and had him on-side, working together to advance rugby’s cause in Australia.

    Needless to say, that opportunity is now lost.

    Indeed there is so much that has been lost, and will be lost in the future, as a result of this debacle. Good men have lost their jobs, players will now have played their last professional rugby, and fans have lost their team.

    Rugby will survive all of this because ultimately, the game is always bigger than us all. But it is entirely understandable if, for now at least, rugby folk who support the Force feel like the sun has gone down on the west for good.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit www.geoffparkes.com. Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (293)

    • August 12th 2017 @ 4:37am
      Chooks said | August 12th 2017 @ 4:37am | ! Report

      There wouldn’t be near as much vitriol if the Force could be moved to another comp, (ie. like the Cheetahs and the Kings).

      All the years of hard work done by Rugby WA at grass roots level has now been in vain.
      Without the Force around, grass roots will dissipate into oblivion and Union will cease to exist in the state.

      Rugby fans in WA will not forget this day.

      • Roar Guru

        August 12th 2017 @ 6:08am
        El Gamba said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:08am | ! Report

        Rugby is over for a lot of us I’d say.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 9:52am
          rock said | August 12th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          Agreed.

          I’ll still be having a run around the park and helping out with juniors, but it’ll be a long time before I take any interest or spend any money in Super Rugby – until the ARU and rugby in Australia can show they’re working together rather then trying to claim ownership of the game I’ll be focusing elsewhere. However, there may be a better chance of hell freezing over then that!

          Also, to try and defend any of this management is ludicrous. They were all around when the new format was put in place, even when the majority of information at hand was telling SANZAR the new format would be a failure. And now look what’s happened, this is all on them.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 11:51am
          markie362 said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          Hey aur dont bother booking any tests in perth.your not gettin any more of my money

          • August 12th 2017 @ 5:29pm
            PJ Kirkby said | August 12th 2017 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

            or any of my 50 mates

            • August 12th 2017 @ 11:03pm
              Wayne said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

              Totally agree, if WA isn’t good enough for a rugby team we certainly don’t need the Wallabies who will exist to represent the Eastern States only. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if the Western Force go I will not spend another $ on supporting any rugby that contributes to the ARU. I hope that all other West Australians follow suit to repay the ARU for the contempt they have shown Western Australia.

              • August 13th 2017 @ 10:12am
                Nick said | August 13th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

                3 boys will now play AFL – well done ARU – I hope you read this Pulver

        • Roar Guru

          August 12th 2017 @ 7:15pm
          stillmissit said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

          I don’t think it is over but with this iteration But the ARU was hoping rather than planning a success.

          It’s not enough to have an ex banker who enjoys rugby and has a lot of mates in the game.and who’s admin skills are average at best. running the game. The only way that works is with a top coach and Cheika has done his best but we all know he is not the most ordered person in rugby.

          The ARU has swallowed the ‘lack of quality players’mantra as they have no idea how to run an organisation with this many constantly moving parts, players and coaches leaving, no idea what is necessary to develop coahes and players.

          Its amess and the Force are paying the price for it.

          • August 13th 2017 @ 9:48pm
            superba said | August 13th 2017 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

            Stillmisit you forgot to add to ” an ex banker and a lot of his mates ” that the majority of them are old boys of the same Sydney ptivate school.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 8:46am
        Todd Shand said | August 12th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

        Its about advertising g money. There is no national advertising money in Western Australia.

        It is a simple decision really.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 12:14pm
          Vissie said | August 12th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

          You are persistent, aren’t you?

        • August 12th 2017 @ 1:06pm
          Bk said | August 12th 2017 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

          Mate, the only simple part is the ARU thinking and total lack of vision for the growth of rugby in this country. I’m a Reds fan but was so impressed with the way the Force played towards the end of the year they lifted our whole competition. 5 in the Wallaby squad. Forget “advertising money” the game belongs to the people!!

          • August 12th 2017 @ 1:51pm
            joe b said | August 12th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

            Yeah…. I don’t think the person understands the need to grow the player base (talent pool). From what I understand Rugby is shrinking in it’s traditional eastern states heart lands, losing ground to soccer and Aussie Rules. There won’t be much cream from a small crop, which translates to losses on the pitch, dwindling crowd support, and falling revenue.

            Rugby won’t die in WA, it has always had a strong grassroots competition… but there will be a lot of hatred towards the Sydney-centric ARU, and the Wallabies will lose crowd support in WA (except for the Bledisloe in 2019 if it is still going ahead…. but people will be there to watch the ABs not the WBs).

        • August 12th 2017 @ 6:30pm
          In Brief said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

          Thanks Turd Sand

      • August 12th 2017 @ 11:15pm
        Patrick said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

        RugbyWA have neglected club rugby here, up until the threat to remove the Force became reality we never saw or heard from RugbyWA. Now when it suited them & they needed a public campaign from grassroots they suddenly focused on grassroots. Even then it amounted to two Force players attending one junior boys training all season. It was a sham, more smoke & mirrors to con the grassroots supporters that actually fund their existence. RugbyWA have been a parochial incompetent self interested closed shop, they also must shoulder their part in this sorry mess.

        • August 14th 2017 @ 7:37am
          NaBUru38 said | August 14th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

          “RugbyWA have neglected club rugby here”

          How is that possible, when RugbyWA is by definition an association of clubs? How can they ignore themselves? Can’t clubs choose other directors who listen to them?

      • August 13th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Drongo said | August 13th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        True, entry into another competition would ease the pain. But who is going to pay for that? No one on their right mind.
        Thing is, when the sun goes down there is always a new dawn to look forward to. Those in the west who really care should focus on that.

    • Roar Guru

      August 12th 2017 @ 4:52am
      Machpants said | August 12th 2017 @ 4:52am | ! Report

      The voice of reason there, excellent article

    • August 12th 2017 @ 5:32am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | August 12th 2017 @ 5:32am | ! Report

      Yes Geoff. This decision would not be so catastrophic if the WA fans could now look to a vibrant 3rd tier comp as a venue to vent their revenge.
      The NRC is not that atm, but may have been if JON had not pulled the rug from the ARC.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 8:23am
        Bakkies said | August 12th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

        Funny enough the Perth Spirit were the best supported team in the ARC.

        • Roar Pro

          August 12th 2017 @ 10:16am
          Crazy Horse said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          are the best supported team,

          • August 12th 2017 @ 10:33am
            Bakkies said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

            He was referring to the ARC Perth Spirit in 2007 when they had the best crowds and made a profit.

            • Roar Pro

              August 12th 2017 @ 6:37pm
              Crazy Horse said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

              Noted but the 2017 Perth Spirit are the same team.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 10:52am
          republican said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          I wonder if there would have been the same outrage had the Brumbies been expediently dealt with in this respect?
          Given that the majority of support for the Force (and the Rebels for that matter) is derived from expat Kiwis, can they be included in the NZ NPC?

          • August 12th 2017 @ 11:55am
            robbo999 said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

            Not true for the Rebels – you only meet them in numbers when a Kiwi team is playing (and then only for that team). If all the Kiwi fans in Melbourne did turn up for the Rebels the stadium would be full.

            • August 12th 2017 @ 12:01pm
              Jumbo said | August 12th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

              Yes it’s the same here in Perth. For the same reason the nz warriors play there, it’s like a home game for them.

          • August 12th 2017 @ 1:57pm
            joe b said | August 12th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

            Expats of many flavours, not just Kiwis. Plenty of S Africans, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, English.
            It would be pretty cool if we could participate in the Japanese league until the current SANZAAR deal expires, and then get brought back into the fold for the new competition.

            • August 12th 2017 @ 6:53pm
              republican said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

              …….Ice Hockey survives on the back of expat Canuks, Czechs, Finns etc.
              It is great that the code exist at all, as an expression of cultural diversity, however as with Union, Ice Hockey is not a code that resonates with the sporting DNA of mainstream Australia and quite frankly, it never has………

          • Roar Pro

            August 12th 2017 @ 3:08pm
            Crazy Horse said | August 12th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

            the majority of support for the Force (and the Rebels for that matter) is derived from expat Kiwis

            not true. Certainly there are plenty of Kiwis but there are also lots of South Africans, Irish and British along with many locally born (like myself) in WA Rugby.

            • August 14th 2017 @ 10:02am
              Lesley Kelly said | August 14th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

              Exactly.I have been a Force member for 11 years and rarely missed a game.The only time I see Kiwis at the game apart from a few exceptions is when their team were playing the Force whereas expat South Africans apart from supporting their own team from SA and I know quite a few support the Force, are members and wear the blue.Their support is strong as well of course as Crazy Horse says expat Welsh,English,Scottish and Irish.

          • August 13th 2017 @ 3:30am
            mzilikazi said | August 13th 2017 @ 3:30am | ! Report

            Republican, that is an interesting idea…..and should be explored further. Perhaps that is where “Twiggy should put his money, to help make it happen. I wonder how the NZ NPC would view this idea.

    • August 12th 2017 @ 6:52am
      Daveski said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      Sad day, poor decision.

      Was also a cheap attempt by ARU to use as justification the need to “support the Wallaroos” given the WRWC is on currently and they probably thought, yes let’s blame the Force for the lack of funding in the women’s game.

      • Roar Guru

        August 12th 2017 @ 8:17am
        DaniE said | August 12th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        Your second paragraph is my thought too. Leave the Wallaroos out of it, thank you.

        • Roar Pro

          August 12th 2017 @ 3:09pm
          Crazy Horse said | August 12th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

          Despite the Western Force Women providing 5 players to the Wallaroos squad.

          • August 12th 2017 @ 6:54pm
            republican said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:54pm | ! Report

            …..probably all Kiwis………

            • August 12th 2017 @ 7:59pm
              ozinsa said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

              And your point is?

    • August 12th 2017 @ 7:00am
      Fionn said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      It’ll be fascinating to see how many fans show up for the first Wallabies Test. I, for one, won’t be going to spend the money on the Wallabies now.

      I wonder if the All Black fans might actually be a majority.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 7:05am
        MH01 said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:05am | ! Report

        I was going to buy a day pass to watch it on sky in the Uk, not now. I’ll just see the result afterwards. Crowds are already bad enough, this will really be the nail in the coffin. If they persist with the NSW dominance, rugby will be dead very soon in oz

        • August 12th 2017 @ 8:24am
          Bakkies said | August 12th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

          The full match will be on YouTube within a few hours if you would like to see the ABs put 50 on the Wallabies.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 10:54am
        13th Man said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        I can imagine a very empty Subiaco Oval for the match against South Africa.
        I would rather attended the AFL International Rules against Ireland than put any money into Australian Rugby at the moment.

        • Roar Pro

          August 12th 2017 @ 6:36pm
          Crazy Horse said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:36pm | ! Report

          Subiaco Oval will certainly be empty. It’s being played at nib 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          August 13th 2017 @ 3:17pm
          Timbo (L) said | August 13th 2017 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

          NIB will be a “Sea of Green”. If I get handed some free tickets like last year I will be cheering on the Boks too.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 10:54am
        republican said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        ……Fionn, they have long been over 50% of the gate here in Oz.
        Kiwis are the O2 of the code here which has afforded it bogus status truth be told……..

        • August 12th 2017 @ 2:51pm
          Sydneysider said | August 12th 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

          Yep, I expect a crowd of around 50,000 for the Bledisloe at Homebush in a couple of weeks.

          Of that crowd, I expect 60% to be Kiwis.

          You watch the amount of empty seats that will be on show that night.

          Hopefully the Kiwis enjoying putting the boot into the only product that is generating revenue for the ARU.

          This isn’t rock bottom yet for rugby in Australia, rock bottom will be 2020 when Super Rugby is disbanded and the ARU don’t have a proper domestic competition.

          • August 12th 2017 @ 6:40pm
            Ed said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

            Average crowd for an All Blacks test at Homebush since its reconfiguration after 2001 is 76200. Three of the past four matches there have been under 70,000, with last year’s crowd of 65328 the lowest crowd for a Bledisloe at Homebush.

            I will be going and don’t expect a crowd above 60,000.

            • August 12th 2017 @ 8:28pm
              Me said | August 12th 2017 @ 8:28pm | ! Report

              I was there last year and was surrounded by kiwi fans. Including hundreds of aussies cheering for the blacks. It definately isnt a ‘home’ game for the wallabies any more

    • August 12th 2017 @ 7:04am
      Fionn said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      Geoff, I have an awful feeling that when 2020 comes we will find the South Africans no longer have a desire to be a part of Super Rugby and are going to head to the Northern Hemisphere.

      At that point the ARU are going to have to try and revive the Western Force after Rugby League, soccer and AFL have made huge inroads, and I can only imagine the apocalyptic reaction from the Force fans after being cut only to be revived.

      It’s a shame the Force didn’t top the Aussie conference this year.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 7:37am
        Darwin Stubbie said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        A lot of water needs to go under the bridge before then … the obvious hurdle first up is that basically means SA needs to turn its whole structure and season’s upside down … flip it over and you could just as easily see the SR rejig working on and off the field – and providing revenue growth and looking at getting in on a global season to hook up with NH teams in a champion league type arrangement ….

        but even so if that does happen a TT / pacific, Asia comp still puts WF on to fringe particularly around travel – I can’t see them coming back – there hope is the growth of the NRC

      • August 12th 2017 @ 10:26am
        Jumbo said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        Wa is afl country, always will be. After 11 years in perth it strikes me how many people have never heard of the force or what rugby is. The few games i did go to , were made up of the expat kiwis going down to watch their team from nz play. I always thought, “how come they don’t advertise the force games on billboards or anywhere prominent”? We never knew or heard who the force were playing week in week out. I will also say that alot of kiwi families are leaving perth for greener pastures,due to the construction work declining. Taking alot of rugby bred kids with them, which has been very noticeable in the last 2 years. Rugby in wa was struggling from the start and is in a better state, but still not strong enough to survive im afraid.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 11:00am
          republican said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          …..Vic is AFL country and so too is the ACT which would be evidenced if they had their own stand alone side in the AFL.
          More to the point Unions footprint is small in Oz and shrinking as we speak.
          I believe there should be two entities if Super plastic ra ra is to continue, Qld and NSW. This is the brutal reality in respect of the status of the code here……….

          • August 12th 2017 @ 11:17am
            Bakkies said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

            ‘ so too is the ACT which would be evidenced if they had their own stand alone side in the AFL.’

            We are no longer living in the early 80s.

            • August 12th 2017 @ 11:24am
              republican said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

              ……….no we are not however, despite abject neglect by the governing body of the ACT Aust Footy community,
              Manuka fixtures for GWS, who are not a Canberra entity, sell out.
              Is this an inconvenient truth you prefer to deny………

              • August 12th 2017 @ 8:32pm
                Me said | August 12th 2017 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

                It may seem like a sell out but did you know that members get 2 free tickets to take friends with them every home game in canberra. 5000 members you do the maths.

          • August 12th 2017 @ 12:23pm
            DaveJ said | August 12th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

            ACT has always supported AFL, Union and League in substantial numbers, AFL maybe just had but no way much more than half. Probably more union than elsewhere given that it has the most middle class place in Australia.

            • August 12th 2017 @ 12:36pm
              republican said | August 12th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

              ……..I grew up here and can confidently say that the indigenous code would attract greater support than any other if the AFL granted us membership of their elite league………

              • August 13th 2017 @ 9:50am
                chris said | August 13th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

                Whats the indigenous code exactly? Gaelic football?

        • August 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm
          markie362 said | August 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

          Wot a load of cobblers most people in perth know who the force are.most of the confusion is the difference between league and union

        • Roar Pro

          August 12th 2017 @ 3:11pm
          Crazy Horse said | August 12th 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

          14,000 registered players isn’t “struggling”.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 6:34pm
          In Brief said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

          So how do you account for WA having a growing junior base?

        • August 14th 2017 @ 10:13am
          Lesley Kelly said | August 14th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

          A few games,well you know nothing,Kiwis are very parochial when it comes to rugby and only support their own teams unlike expat South Africans a lot who are Force members so they won’t be missed.Rugby was growing here enormously since the inception of the Force.Of course if it had been a level playing field on who got money from the ARU instead of most of it going to Queensland and NSW we would have done as good if not better than them and therefore filled more seats.In fact as you well know we did this year only finish second on points difference as we won 6 games same as Brumbies.Now tell me how The Force beat the Waratahs with their team full of overpaid talent.

      • August 12th 2017 @ 11:08am
        woodart said | August 12th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        sth africans and kiwis want to play each other. its the ultimate test for both. super rugby will always have both countries playing each other.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 12:18pm
          Vissie said | August 12th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

          Absolutely spot on, and that’s why I hated the last few years’ format. If I wanted to watch Saffa sides play each other I would watch the Currie Cup.

        • Roar Guru

          August 12th 2017 @ 12:27pm
          Machooka said | August 12th 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

          Except through-out previous SR seasons eh?

        • August 12th 2017 @ 6:58pm
          republican said | August 12th 2017 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

          ……while both are why the code exists at all in Perth and this was a major criteria to the ARU granting WA a licence in the Super plastic comp.
          Quite frankly this is not enough………..

          • Roar Pro

            August 12th 2017 @ 7:57pm
            Crazy Horse said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

            BS Republican. Rugby has been played in Perth since at least 1893. The Force gave it a big boost but the Premier Grade Clubs exist quite independently of the Force.

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