RugbyWA’s letter to the community after exiting voluntary administration

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    RugbyWA’s creditors have voted to exit voluntary administration and the Western Force name has been maintained after a settlement with Rugby Australia (formerly the ARU).

    RugbyWA announced the news in an open letter:

    Dear Western Australian Rugby Community,

    Recent times have been very challenging for Rugby in Western Australia. However, I am really pleased to update you on the progress we have made and positive outlook we can now provide particularly for our community game.

    Today at 10:00am AWST, and as part of the Voluntary Administration process our creditors have voted to exit voluntary administration and return RugbyWA to the directors.

    To enable this to happen, key Creditors including Rugby Australia and Lavan have agreed to forgive RWA’s liabilities and the State Government has been hugely supportive in providing a significant cushion with our longer-term debt. Our deep appreciation go to Andrew Forrest personally for his work supporting our negotiations with Rugby Australia through a very difficult period and helping to turn the tide.

    A huge vote of thanks goes out to the Rugby WA Board members and Supporters who have committed significant personal funds into the Restructure Implementation Deed to ensure that RugbyWA will exit with sufficient funds to move forward with confidence.

    We are also very pleased to announce that as part of the Settlement with Rugby Australia the naming rights and IP of our beloved Western Force will be returned home. Should the ‘Sea of Blue’ wish it so our NRC team can take to the field in 2018 as the Western Force in full and familiar blue.

    This is a significant sign after a long battle that Rugby Australia acknowledges the importance of our code and our solidarity in the west. More support is promised and we will certainly be seeking it moving forward. Our thanks also go out to our CEO Bob Hunter and his wonderful team who have hung in through such a difficult time and now finally have the security they deserve and a new

    To Mark Sinderberry our former CEO we owe a huge debt of gratitude. Mark stayed true to the West through very difficult and conflicting times. He passed all tests and is now a true West Australian.

    Many thanks also to Senator Linda Reynolds who continues to seek a pathway to the truth and a way to restore the publics faith in our sport nationally.

    To the Sea of Blue your undying and relentless commitment holds us apart from all those in the East and we have nothing if we don’t have you.

    The Future Force Foundation recently met and the Foundation’s Chairman Bob McKinnon has advised that the members pledged their ongoing support for the Future Force Academy ensuring our hugely successful pathways are funded moving forward. There will be a number of changes to the Board and the Constitution to better reflect future plans.

    The first step towards this is the announcement that after many years serving on the RugbyWA Board and thee years Chairing the Board through what can only be described as tumultuous times, Tony Howarth will be stepping down and John Edwards the current Deputy Chairman will take his seat.

    We take this opportunity to thank Tony for his many years of service to Rugby WA and for guiding us through such troubled waters. Of course, this is only part of the story. We are also extremely excited to announce that our great supporter Andrew Forrest and his team at Minderoo have formally pledged significant support funds to develop all aspects of Rugby in the West.

    Minderoo will inject over $2,000,000 in cash specifically into the general administration of RugbyWA, The Future Force Academy, Women’s Rugby and Junior development. Ably led by Force Legend Matt Hodgson (Hodgo), Minderoo has also committed specialist management and high performance resources to help us rebuild, rearm and prepare for our next taste of rofessional Rugby. Our thanks also go to Andrew personally for his work supporting our negotiations with Rugby Australia through a very difficult period and helping to turn the tide.

    The outcome of all this significant progress means;

    • Our legal tussles with Rugby Australia have come to an end and finally in our favour.
    • We will retain the Lead Tenancy of RugbyHQ
    • The Future Force Academy under the stewardship of Steve Anderson (Ando)
    remains intact and will be super charged to now include women’s and girl’s
    programmes. The Academy will lead the nation in all measures and will be unique in
    its level of independent funding.
    • Pathways for our youngsters are preserved and enhanced from U6 through Juniors
    to the Academy and on to representative honours and the NRC.
    • We have a new long-term partnership with Andrew Forrest, Hodgo and the Minderoo
    Group who are putting their weight behind our planned resurgence.
    • The Western Force will once again take the field in WA which has to put a smile on
    many faces.

    We still have plenty of work ahead and on January 17th at RugbyHQ we are holding an information and ideas Workshop.

    The concept is to share with Community how things currently work at Rugby WA and look for ideas and energy to assist and add value to our future.

    If you have fresh ideas and some energy to burn we want to see you there. Of course, none of this comes close to fully repairing the loss we all still feel over the axing of our beloved Force but it’s a good start and with your support we will move forward with purpose and unity.

    Yours in Rugby
    The Rugby WA Board.

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    The Crowd Says (79)

    • Roar Rookie

      December 8th 2017 @ 2:07pm
      piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

      Wait – that’s good news.

      Well this is an odd feeling

      • Roar Guru

        December 8th 2017 @ 2:37pm
        Lano said | December 8th 2017 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

        where does the ownership lie? this talks about IP and name, but does the ARU still own the Force.

        And when he says “will be returned home” what does this mean?

        • Roar Rookie

          December 8th 2017 @ 2:40pm
          piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

          Back with RugbyWA, they’ve been pushing for this since they killed the team.

      • December 8th 2017 @ 6:30pm
        Ex force fan said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

        Are you sure? We are dealing with the ARU/RA here…there is a twist or interpretation that will be used against us in the future like the Alliance and Support agreement. It is still the same Pulver, Clyne and Eales on the other side.. that proven that they cannot be trusted!

    • Roar Guru

      December 8th 2017 @ 2:30pm
      John R said | December 8th 2017 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

      Glad to see this nasty chapter coming to a close, on what seems to be reasonably amicable terms for all.

      • December 8th 2017 @ 3:21pm
        Ex force fan said | December 8th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

        Not at a close yet as I expect RA/ARU to.continue to undermine and underfund WA rugby as they try to get their hands into Twiggy’s pockets.

        • Roar Guru

          December 8th 2017 @ 4:41pm
          John R said | December 8th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

          I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see them lining up at the trough of Twiggy’s pockets.

          Lord knows they need to.

        • December 9th 2017 @ 10:53am
          Redsfan1 said | December 9th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Really? Here I was thinking that WA rugby had undermined states like Queensland that actually produce rugby players only to have them poached by an AFL state.

          • December 9th 2017 @ 12:04pm
            Bakkies said | December 9th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

            Redsfan Qld Rugby undermined itself like it is doing now. Do you really think the Reds were going to have a fifty man squad with talent wilting away in club Rugby?

    • December 8th 2017 @ 2:46pm
      Perthstayer said | December 8th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

      Talk turning into action. Local rugby will be relieved.

      Twiggy true to his word of support outside of IPRC.

      “…rearm and prepare for our next taste of professional Rugby” is pretty open and “professional rugby” is not a hole that Spirit fills.

    • December 8th 2017 @ 2:55pm
      scottd said | December 8th 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

      As predicted, a common sense outcome which is good news.

      Now let’s move on to the important business at hand…..what was it again?

      • Roar Rookie

        December 8th 2017 @ 2:57pm
        piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

        Something about Quade I think

        • December 10th 2017 @ 5:14pm
          scottd said | December 10th 2017 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

          I heard he was going to join the Force

    • Roar Rookie

      December 8th 2017 @ 3:28pm
      piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

      Rumours that this is in exchange for the IPRC being canned

      • December 8th 2017 @ 3:42pm
        RahRah said | December 8th 2017 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

        I still think the best outcome would be for Minderoo to take charge of the NRC and turn it into a truly national comp, with some “expat” teams from Fiji and the SP. In my mind it would shiiiiii…….. on SR for popularity and viewing audience.
        This deal allows the the ERA or EARU (whatever they want to be called) to abdicate funding for rugby here in the West and concentrate solely on the East coast (where they have always concentrated) and pouring huge sums of money into their Melbourne folly.

        • December 8th 2017 @ 4:05pm
          Ex force fan said | December 8th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

          That will mean that there is still no pathway for a WA rugby player to international rugby without leaving their state. Also RA/ARU can continue to underfund (if at all) WA Rugby and strip WA of anything that they build up including players. It is not good enough for a state with the 3rd most rugby players in the country. The IPRC needs to go ahead and Twiggy needs to be careful to keep the RA/ARU greedy hands out of his pockets.

          Also no-one has been kept accountable at the ARU/RA Board and Executive for the mess they created in Australia rugby. The logical solution would have been a merger between two super teams and that is what happened anyway when the Rebels recruited the core of the Force team and their whole Force coaching team. It would have meant that rugby could have maintained a national footprint but the ARU was not interesting in staying up late to watch games. Clyne needs to go as he faces another senate enquiry.

          • December 8th 2017 @ 5:06pm
            Train Without A Station said | December 8th 2017 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

            They couldn’t force a merger…

            • December 10th 2017 @ 5:15pm
              scottd said | December 10th 2017 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

              No but they could have made a proposal to the two clubs and by their own admission they didn’t even try that.

            • December 10th 2017 @ 8:09pm
              Ex force fan said | December 10th 2017 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

              However they managed to organise a backhanded deal to save the Rebels from bankruptcy. They did not even try is the answer. Still thr dumbest decision in the history of Australian rugby!

              • December 11th 2017 @ 11:40am
                Brian said | December 11th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

                Best decision as far as I’m concerned. Worst decision was letting the Force into Super Rugby ahead of the Rebels all those years ago!!

              • December 11th 2017 @ 8:50pm
                Bakkies said | December 11th 2017 @ 8:50pm | ! Report

                That occurred due to Vic sending in a garbage bid with little community and media support

          • December 8th 2017 @ 5:18pm
            Bakkies said | December 8th 2017 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

            ‘That will mean that there is still no pathway for a WA rugby player to international rugby without leaving their state. Also RA/ARU can continue to underfund (if at all) WA Rugby and strip WA of anything that they build up including players. It is not good enough for a state with the 3rd most rugby players in the country. The IPRC needs to go ahead and Twiggy needs to be careful to keep the RA/ARU greedy hands out of his pockets.’

            Exactly the NRC is not enough. A ten week comp where some teams train twice a week doesn’t cut the mustard.

          • Roar Rookie

            December 8th 2017 @ 6:50pm
            ForceFan said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

            100% agree Ex force fan.

            If the NRC is the best that rugby players in WA can aspire to then there there is chance to “move on” and there will continue to be the non-stop migration to the East Coast – just as we’ve seen since the Western Force was axed.

            The ForceFan post below is not mine.

            Bring on the IPRC or any other means to maintain a professional rugby team in WA.

            • December 8th 2017 @ 7:01pm
              ForceFan said | December 8th 2017 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

              The IPRC won’t work. Any competition needs to stand on its own. Andrew Forrest can’t bankroll it forever and if it doesn’t make money, players won’t get paid the money they want and they’ll leave and interest will drop. Twiggy’s done so much to be thankful for as a WA Rugby fan but i think the IPRC is misguided.

              I can’t stand the way the force have been treated and I want Clyne’s head on a stick but I’d rather watch a Perth team play other Aus teams than teams from around the region. We’re back to SR again!

              Anyways, just an opinion.

              • Roar Rookie

                December 8th 2017 @ 7:12pm
                piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

                Hodgo seems to think there’s a lot of Asian interest and money in it, so I’m happy to go with that.

                The other ForceFan is right, NRC is not enough, we’re effectively in the same position we are now – we just get to wear blue.

              • December 8th 2017 @ 7:19pm
                Ex force fan said | December 8th 2017 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

                I think the IPRC is a better prospect that any competition controlled by the RA/ARU. I do not think the future of WA rugby is within the framework of Australian rugby as we need to develop a commercially viable competition that can fund itself with those that are aligned with us in Asia as the vested interest in the Eastern States will never allow WA to thrive. All these nations are alienated by the rugby establishment and will need to stick together to survive.

        • December 8th 2017 @ 6:15pm
          ForceFan said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

          I agree. A much improved NRC is better than an IPRC. I want it to work but I just can’t get excited about an IPRC. Beef up the NRC (which the Western Force can play in now) over the next couple of years and when SR dies its inevitable death, this NRC will be ready to fill the hole. It can be the step below International rugby with clubs from the NRC playing in club championships against other leagues in the region as is done in the NH. Maybe get some games on FTA as the NBL has done and grow some interest this way as well.

          We all know the Force got shafted and the Rebels got a sweet deal but it’s time to move on.

          • Roar Rookie

            December 8th 2017 @ 6:22pm
            piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

            I just hope the Spirit stay as a development squad or something, it would be a pity to lose them.

            • December 8th 2017 @ 6:26pm
              Train Without A Station said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

              Make the Spirit the same as the Axemen in Vic. A club comp rep team. Picks up players that don’t make the NRC team.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 2:54pm
                andrewM said | December 9th 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

                no, that ‘s where Perth Gold fits in

              • Roar Guru

                December 11th 2017 @ 12:54pm
                Train Without A Station said | December 11th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

                Ok. Don’t keep the Spirit then…

              • December 11th 2017 @ 7:54pm
                Ex force fan said | December 11th 2017 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

                The Spirit has a role as WA’s NRC team. This is not a void that the Force should fill. The Force should be WA’s IPRC/Superugby side. If the ARU/RA think that WA will be satisfied with the Force playing in the NRC they miss the point of what Twiggy and us are trying to achieve with the Force: to create a pathway to elite rugby for WA based players without leaving the state. A merger may have satisfied that requirement but the ARU/RA never pursued that option.

                If the IPRC is not achievable with the ARU/RA blessing then Twiggy can set-up a Rebel competition that will severely deplete Australian rugby player base or alternatively the Asian nations may approach World Rugby to resolve the deadlock. What is clear that the axing of the Force will give the ARU/RA less control over their own future and not more. I would be surprised if the ARU/RA even considered these risks and unintended consequences when they made the decision to axe the Force.

                The biggest mistake the ARU/RA made was not to consult as they could have foreseen this scenario to play out. What an incredible dumb decision the axing of the Force proven to be. Clyne, Pulver and Eales must be kept accountable for this!

            • Roar Rookie

              December 10th 2017 @ 12:34pm
              ForceFan said | December 10th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

              With the expanded Future Force Foundation and the development of a professional squad for the IPRC I expect the Perth Spirit to remain in it’s current structure as a logical development step for Club Rugby players to mix-it with the professional and/or representative WA based players who aren’t playing Test rugby..

              Perth Gold can still be the best of Club Rugby players and still has a place.

              All that’s been said to date is that the WA NRC team ‘could’ or ‘may’ play under the Western Force banner.

            • Roar Guru

              December 11th 2017 @ 6:45pm
              Timbo (L) said | December 11th 2017 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

              Word on the street is that they will use the Force Badge in the NRC next year.
              The name doesn’t make a lot of difference to me. I cheered both on with the same gusto this season.

          • December 8th 2017 @ 6:25pm
            Train Without A Station said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

            So hang on.

            You can’t even get excited about the same competition you criticised me as “lacking vision” for being skeptical that it was going to be a huge success?

          • December 8th 2017 @ 6:25pm
            Ex force fan said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

            We may move on once those that were responsibility for this mess has been kept accountable even it is only by ASIC. Clyne, Eales and Pulver must go. To see them on the opposite side of the negotiating tables is wrong on so many levels.

            Relegating the Force to a third tier competition is not a sustainable answer to grow rugby in WA. WA will just become a development area for the Eastern States- the rugby supporters in WA deserve much better.

          • December 8th 2017 @ 6:42pm
            AndyS said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

            A “much improved” NRC would look like the Currie Cup at best, with the Force being the Griquas. There is nothing RA would like more than to give WA nothing for community rugby, have them pay for everything themselves, then take any promising player East to prop up the favoured and funded teams. Would totally validate their handling of things.

            • December 8th 2017 @ 6:48pm
              Train Without A Station said | December 8th 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report


              There’s nothing they’d like more after literally publicly pledging to increase it?

            • December 9th 2017 @ 1:17am
              Rhys Bosley said | December 9th 2017 @ 1:17am | ! Report

              Unless the NRL sets up in Perth again, and takes the Force’s most promising players before the ARU can get to them. That would totally invalidate the ARU’s handling of the saga.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 8:34am
                Train Without A Station said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

                I don’t see the NRL setting up a team there.

                They don’t have the funds to invest in a team long term like the AFL does.

                The best they could hope for (and even then they’re likely to fall short) is to be as well supported as the Force, which wouldn’t see them profitable.

                And the extra team would mean adding a bye in, so no more games. Which would mean no more income and based on current numbers, $13M a year extra in grants to an extra team, who they’d then need to prop up a little bit too as a Perth NRL team wouldn’t have a leagues club to keep them afloat like the rest of the league.

      • Roar Guru

        December 8th 2017 @ 4:42pm
        John R said | December 8th 2017 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

        Where’d you hear that man?

        • Roar Rookie

          December 8th 2017 @ 4:47pm
          piru said | December 8th 2017 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

          Unnamed source who was at the press conference, he did say after that it was just the feeling he was getting

    • December 8th 2017 @ 4:24pm
      Ex force fan said | December 8th 2017 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

      It is good to see that they dropped their moratorium on covering news from WA. This is what you have missed in the past week:

      WA never stood a chance:

      Pressure on ASIC to investigate the Rebels deal

      ARU trying to sabotage the IPRC

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