Western Force losing their license shows that the ARU failed to capitalise on the popularity of rugby in Western Australia.
Last week the ARU announced the Melbourne Rebels would stay on as a franchise in the upcoming Super Rugby competition, whereas the West will now again lose another rugby team. The first example of this took place with the exit of the Western Reds in 1997 from the ARL competition after only three years in the top level.
Melbourne do not embrace union as much as they embrace rugby league, and recent crowd numbers and a stand of empty seats at Rebel home games can prove my theory.
The Rebels have averaged 8,446 people attending every home game, with less people attending since the start of the season.
If you look at the Western Force who have an attendance of close to 10,000, with about 9,500 people going to the games.
Rebels on average can’t fill a 30,000-seat stadium in Melbourne. With all the crowds that attended the lowest-recorded attendance for a Rebels home game this year was against powerhouses the Queensland Reds – with only 6,931 people going to the game.
Why would the ARU subject themselves by keeping a team in the competition that has a sea of empty seats in a 30,000-seat stadium? With rugby growing again in WA over the last few years, the ARU have put a roadblock to WA players getting an opportunity to represent their state in union in the future.
There are extensive junior networks in the West who have supplied plenty of top players to the national setup. Now rugby league could step in to the breach and set up a team on the west coast.
The ARU have blood on their hands, and this is the reason why Australian rugby union is a shell of its former self.