Western Force to return in new comp launched by Andrew Forrest

Daniel Jeffrey Editor

By Daniel Jeffrey, Daniel Jeffrey is a Roar Editor

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    They’re no longer a part of Super Rugby, but the Western Force will return to the field in 2018 just a year after being cut from the premier rugby competition in the southern hemisphere.

    The Perth-based side will make their return in the new World Series Rugby (WSR) competition, which was launched today by Andrew Forrest.

    While details are light in regards to the new tournament, it will comprise seven games later this year before evolving into a “fully-fledged international competition for the Asia Pacific region” in 2019, according to a statement released this afternoon.

    The seven games will see the Force line up against a range of opposition – two Super Rugby franchises (the Rebels and Crusaders) and four international sides (Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Hong Kong) with one opponent still to be confirmed.

    “We have rebuilt the Western Force as we develop our tournament and we now have a wholly integrated community and high-performance club as the foundation of the future competition,” Forrest said.

    “We have serious ambitions for this great team and for rugby in our region and intend to see these ambitions through, starting today with the launch of World Series Rugby.

    “The focus for 2018 is to reintroduce and reinforce professional rugby in Western Australia for the benefits of our grassroots community, our players and our fans.

    “In 2019 the WSR will evolve into a high-calibre, international competition with the goal of making rugby the community-building sport of Asia.”

    The Force have put together a 23-man squad for the fixtures, which includes some notable names like Jaque Fourie, Ryan Louwrens and Fijian gold medallist Masivesi Dakuwaqa.

    The first of the fixtures will be played in just 59 days, against Fiji on May 4, with the final match against a yet-to-be-confirmed opponent on August 17. The games against the Rebels and Crusaders, scheduled for June 9 and 22, fall in the Test window when Super Rugby is on a break. All games are set to be played at nib Stadium in Perth.

    Force chief executive Nick Marvin called on rugby fans in Western Australia to get behind the re-launched team in their fixtures later in the year.

    “The Force fans have been such a crucial factor in the club’s, and ultimately the sport’s, future in WA,” Marvin said.

    “We want to show our gratitude by bringing them matches which will entertain, inspire and leave them on the edge of their seats.

    “The best way West Australians can continue to show their support for the Western Force is to wear blue, get down to the seven home games and get behind their team.”

    Western Force 2018 squad
    AJ Alatimu, Chris Alcock, Marcel Brache, Masivesi Dakuwaqa, Rod Davies, Andrew Deegan, Tevin Ferris, Jaque Fourie, Josh Furno, Peter Grant, Chris Heiberg, Rodney Iona, Feleti Kaitu’u, Brad Lacey, Kieran Longbottom, Ryan Louwrens, Cameron Orr, Harrison Orr, Leon Power, Ian Prior, Harry Scoble, Tom Sheminant, Brynard Stander.

    Western Force 2018 fixtures
    May 4 vs Fiji
    May 13 vs Tonga
    June 9 vs Rebels
    June 22 vs Crusaders
    July 13 vs Samoa
    August 10 vs Hong Kong
    August 17 vs TBC

    Daniel Jeffrey
    Daniel Jeffrey

    Daniel is Editor of The Roar. You can catch him on Twitter @_d_jeffrey.

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    The Crowd Says (410)

    • March 6th 2018 @ 2:13pm
      Metalisticpain said | March 6th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

      Have at it twiggy!

    • Columnist

      March 6th 2018 @ 2:17pm
      Brett McKay said | March 6th 2018 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

      The competition is scheduled to evolve into a “fully-fledged international competition for the Asia Pacific region” in 2019…

      Hang on, so is this happening this year or next year?

      And if this little detail is what they’re working toward, does this supercede the IPRC plans?

      • Editor

        March 6th 2018 @ 2:29pm
        Daniel Jeffrey said | March 6th 2018 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

        Games against various international/Super Rugby opposition this year, a fully-fledged competition next year. No mention of the IPRC in the statement I have, although it’d be surprising if the IPRC runs alongside this other Asia-Pacific-based comp.

        • Columnist

          March 6th 2018 @ 5:06pm
          David Lord said | March 6th 2018 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

          Daniel, what a damn shame Andrew Forrest isn’t chairman of Rugby Australia – his outstanding talents are wasted organising an unofficial tournament.

          Having said that, at least Andrew has given the forgotten rugby talent a competitive home and a voice, for which they should be eternally grateful.

          • March 6th 2018 @ 6:23pm
            Bib said | March 6th 2018 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

            Pipe down rookie

          • March 6th 2018 @ 8:10pm
            Malo said | March 6th 2018 @ 8:10pm | ! Report

            David it’s time you get a rebel union comp with twiggy going. The ra have completely lost it.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 6th 2018 @ 5:06pm
        ForceFan said | March 6th 2018 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

        It’s what it was always going to be once Minderoo responded to the request to run the IPRC in the same time slot as Super Rugby in 2019.

        This is just a fill-in season to maintain a professional team in Perth, play some games for the sake of the rugby fans in Perth, have a team in place to participate in the NRC and establish the foundation of the squad for the IPRC in 2019.

        Thanks Minderoo!
        How many other provincial teams get to play visiting International teams?

        I’m interested in the TBC team in August.

        Good to see that Monderoo has followed up on their aims to bring some Aussies back for the Western Force as well as attract some developing talent from WA and elsewhere.

      • March 6th 2018 @ 6:49pm
        Working Class Rugger said | March 6th 2018 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

        The IPRC isn’t scheduled until next year anyway. So that’s probably the competition detailed in the piece. This is just a placeholder to keep the Force active.

        • March 6th 2018 @ 7:27pm
          Train Without A Station said | March 6th 2018 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

          Should ensure they are well primed for NRC.

        • March 6th 2018 @ 7:40pm
          Bob said | March 6th 2018 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

          So how many teams the force are playing will we see in the IPRC in 2019?

          My guess is Forrest will pump money into the Fijian Dura and make them fully pro so they play in both the IPRC

          The Japanese team that may fill the last slot of the season may be a trail run for the top league team that could enter next season
          The same for the Hong Kong game to see if they are up to Standard.

          Half the reason the IPRC is playing in march to June, is not to go head to head with domestic Asian comps that run from Sept To Feb

          The more ready made teams Forrest can get on board opposed to having to buy 6 new teams the better chance for success.

          1.Perth
          2. Fiji
          3. HK
          4. Top League Team
          5.?
          6.?

          Thoughts?

          • March 6th 2018 @ 11:17pm
            Bakkies said | March 6th 2018 @ 11:17pm | ! Report

            ‘Half the reason the IPRC is playing in march to June, is not to go head to head with domestic Asian comps that run from Sept To Feb’

            More to do with the weather.

            They have been around Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Korea looking at prospective teams, facilities and venues.

            • March 7th 2018 @ 8:14pm
              Bob said | March 7th 2018 @ 8:14pm | ! Report

              Also another good reason is that non super contracted NRC and Mitre 10 cup players should be free to play during that time.

          • March 7th 2018 @ 1:06pm
            Working Class Rugger said | March 7th 2018 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

            Don’t forget the teams running out in 2019 will also likely have significant levels of imported talent as well. It’s more a trial run to start working on logistics etc for the teams. I actually think Malaysia will be a fairly good shout. A lot of interesting things going on regarding the game in that country. Tell you what. If I were a young bloke with talent and options somewhere like Seoul or Kuala Lumpur among others would be quite the drawing card.

            • March 7th 2018 @ 6:51pm
              MitchO said | March 7th 2018 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

              Malaysia came out and did some work with the Force last year. They will not be super rugby standard but they some guys physically big enough to play first grade and really the IRC needs to get the Asian guys more higher level experience.

        • March 6th 2018 @ 7:41pm
          Bob said | March 6th 2018 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

          Also is a good chance to gadge talent levels in Asia Pacific and get their new admin team up to speed.

    • Roar Guru

      March 6th 2018 @ 2:36pm
      Machooka said | March 6th 2018 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

      OK then… but apart from da ‘Rebel Force’ and ‘Hong Kong’ the rest of the teams are at least two time zones east of Perth? Or does everyone just come to Perth to play?

      • Editor

        March 6th 2018 @ 2:47pm
        Daniel Jeffrey said | March 6th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

        Games to be played at nib Stadium in Perth, Machooka

        • Roar Guru

          March 6th 2018 @ 3:42pm
          Machooka said | March 6th 2018 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

          Thanks Jeffers…

          Oh, by the bye, where’s the ‘tipping comp’ section for this comp… I can’t find it 😉

          • Roar Guru

            March 6th 2018 @ 5:22pm
            Ralph said | March 6th 2018 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

            Crusaders by plenty .. ?

          • Editor

            March 7th 2018 @ 8:29am
            Daniel Jeffrey said | March 7th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

            Hah. Might hold off on the tipping comp for the time being

      • March 6th 2018 @ 2:50pm
        Sefu said | March 6th 2018 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

        All those games are played in perth

      • Roar Guru

        March 6th 2018 @ 4:35pm
        Timbo (L) said | March 6th 2018 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

        If they wants to gets paid, yes. Perth is the place to be.

        It is also in winter, not summer, which can make a difference for the future NH teams.

      • March 6th 2018 @ 7:44pm
        Bob said | March 6th 2018 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

        Title is a bit mis leading is not a competition as only the force are playing more then one game. So is series of exhibition games/warm up games into the NRC that the force will play into

    • March 6th 2018 @ 2:50pm
      mtiger said | March 6th 2018 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

      Force, the new Barbarian. Why not, if there is quality in the play

    • March 6th 2018 @ 3:07pm
      Jack Russell said | March 6th 2018 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

      How many seasons do we give this comp?
      Hard to see it lasting more than 2. It all seems incredibly expensive for what is basically a 2nd division.

      • March 6th 2018 @ 3:12pm
        Perry Bridge said | March 6th 2018 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

        Much might depend on the pull out point and just what the wealthy controller wants out of it. Kerry Packer with cricket got his broadcast rights and new formats (D/N and ODI cricket). WSC only lasted a couple of years but resonated much longer.

        What’s the end game here?

      • March 6th 2018 @ 3:23pm
        andrewM said | March 6th 2018 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

        Based on the games so far, you could say that of the Australian conference in Super Rugby too

      • March 6th 2018 @ 3:47pm
        MrTommo said | March 6th 2018 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

        I think the comp will last until the new broadcast agreement in 2020, then things will get interesting as it seems the Force can at least buy their way back into super rugby (If it indeed continues to exists). Essentially this comp is just a stop gap until the Force get that opportunity imo… Unless it surprises and does incredibly well in terms of entertainment and revenue.

      • Roar Guru

        March 6th 2018 @ 4:36pm
        Timbo (L) said | March 6th 2018 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

        As Andrew says, SR is on borrowed time and come 2020 I predict that any aussie teams that are still financially viable will be begging to join Twiggy’s comp, a competition with international standard teams accessible to the general public.

        • March 6th 2018 @ 8:17pm
          Train Without A Station said | March 6th 2018 @ 8:17pm | ! Report

          Unless it has a TV deal bringing in $5+M per team, no, they won’t.

          • March 6th 2018 @ 11:18pm
            Bakkies said | March 6th 2018 @ 11:18pm | ! Report

            Don’t you mean $7 million for the Rebels and stuff all for the rest?

            • March 7th 2018 @ 10:52am
              Train Without A Station said | March 7th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

              Nah. I mean equal to what every team gets now which is actually $6.2M I think.

              • March 8th 2018 @ 9:47am
                Bakkies said | March 8th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

                That’s bs and you know it.

              • March 8th 2018 @ 12:02pm
                Train Without A Station said | March 8th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

                It’s BS that teams won’t leave Super Rugby unless something provides them equal or greater funding?

                Nah.

                And as for Rebels receiving anything extra. The annual report will detail that next year.

              • March 8th 2018 @ 8:39pm
                Ex force fan said | March 8th 2018 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

                If SARU align with NH the money for Superugby will not be there…..

          • March 7th 2018 @ 6:21am
            P2R2 said | March 7th 2018 @ 6:21am | ! Report

            and I agree TWAS…this is all aspirational at best…

          • Roar Guru

            March 8th 2018 @ 6:49pm
            Timbo (L) said | March 8th 2018 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

            Twiggy is banking on a much bigger deal than that.
            Tapping into a theoretical market with upwards of 2 Billion people compared to the 100 Mil in Sanzaar, is a pretty good business strategy.

            • March 8th 2018 @ 8:00pm
              Katipo said | March 8th 2018 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

              @Timbo I’m a big fan of what Twiggy is doing and I have no sympathy for the bozzos at Sanzaar, but I think you are vastly over-estimating the interest in rugby in Asia. I live in Asia and I can tell you that billions of local people here are 100% uninterested in sport, let alone rugby.

              If Twiggy can use his financial power to help out the Polynesians and Melanesians that would be great. The Fijians are super stars. They deserve better; just like the Force supporters deserve better. Otherwise just strengthen rugby in Western Australia, and maybe grow the grass roots interest Northern Territory and South Australia – take a few exhibition games there. Similar story with Singapore, KL, Bangkok and Hong Kong: these places warrant exhibition games only. That is the truth of it. Of course someone might put a hand in their pocket and pay for an IPRC team in Singapore but your kidding yourself if you think the locals will ever really care…

              If there is one Asian country apart from Japan that does have an interest in rugby it is Sri Lanka. Take an exhibition game to Colombo. You’ll get a crowd of 60,000. Seriously. You can grow the rugby brand with good PR and full stadiums… as opposed to what Sanzaar are doing: feathering their own nest while emptying stadiums across 4 continents.

              • March 9th 2018 @ 7:08am
                concerned supporter said | March 9th 2018 @ 7:08am | ! Report

                @Kalipo,
                Very sobering and common sense posting.Well done.

            • Roar Guru

              March 9th 2018 @ 6:06pm
              Timbo (L) said | March 9th 2018 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

              As you allude to, There is limited interest in the hundred million SANZAAR population either

              Melbourne brags of a large “Potential market”, but can’t gain give tickets away.
              Barely 1% of the population have half an interest.
              If you can get 0.01 % of the Asian market, you will make a killing.
              0.001% is OK, 0.0001% is break even. Some sobering figures.

              Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and S.Korea are easy markets, they are already hooked, it is an exercise in publicity. I am not sure what circles you travel in but there are large ruby communities in these regions. They may not show up in the stadiums but they will turn on their TV’s or Smart devices. From what I have seen in Aussie Rugby, Viewers to crowd numbers range between 5 and 10:1 FTA numbers could be quadruple that.

              Twiggy needs to tap into the greater Asian population, for now he is picking the low fruit.

              I do question your statement on disinterest in sport.
              Soccer is hugely popular, pretty much everywhere.

    • March 6th 2018 @ 3:16pm
      Malo said | March 6th 2018 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

      Wtf, rugby is all over the shop. Are the crusaders in two comps and what do they get out of it. Well done twiggy, wtf is ra doing

      • March 6th 2018 @ 3:31pm
        Metalisticpain said | March 6th 2018 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

        It’s just a exhibition match for the crusaders whilst super Rugby is on hold for the test window. Good to keep them sharp during the break probably.

        • March 6th 2018 @ 4:10pm
          Malo said | March 6th 2018 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

          Cheers

      • March 6th 2018 @ 5:07pm
        Jamie said | March 6th 2018 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

        It will be their “B” team more than likely as ABs will be preparing for the test series, not that it matters bcause their B team will be just as good

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