The Western Force will be part of the new five-team Australian competition starting in July after the club’s owner officially accepted Rugby Australia’s invitation on Wednesday.
Removed from Super Rugby in 2017, the Force were set to lead the breakaway Global Rapid Rugby tournament this season before the coronavirus pandemic shut down all competition.
On Wednesday, RA confirmed that the side will compete alongside the Waratahs, Brumbies, Reds and Rebels in a newly structured tournament starting in July.
‘The return of the Western Force in an Australian-based competition is a great story,’ said Rugby Australia’s incoming chairperson Hamish McLennan.
Force owner Andrew Forrest says his decision to let his team participate in the tournament was in the best interests of rugby in Perth – and in Australia – to ensure the game flourishes.
‘My views on the mismanagement of the game under the previous Rugby Australia administration are well known and remain steadfast. Change is imperative at the top for rugby to thrive long term,’ he said.
‘Rugby Australia cannot afford to miss this opportunity to restructure and reinvent every aspect of the game – its governance, cost structure, rules, competition construct, partnerships with broadcasters, commitment to grassroots and, most importantly, engagement with the fans.
‘The Australian sporting public deserves to see more of that style of rugby. A game which keeps up with the times and is not mired in a myriad of laws. A game which returns rugby to its former national prominence and international appeal. A game that will be embraced by the Asia Pacific region as relevant, culture strengthening and entertaining.
‘Until I see evidence that reinvention is at the core of any strategic plan RA comes up with, it will be difficult to commit to a long-term investment,’ he added.
While the five-team tournament seems most likely, should ‘Phase Three’ of the Australian government’s attempt to make the country safe again include opening travel to New Zealand, a Trans-Tasman competition could also happen, with the five Kiwi Super Rugby teams linking up with the now five Aussie franchises.
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