The Western Force has agreed to an offer from Rugby Australia to play in a proposed one-off, domestic-based competition this year.
Accepting the invitation, Force owner Dr Andrew Forrest AO reiterated his desire to see rugby return to a position of sporting prominence across the country.
“Put simply, I want what is best for rugby in Perth and in Australia and to ensure the game flourishes,” Dr Forrest said.
“My views on the mismanagement of the game under the previous Rugby Australia administration are well known. Change is imperative at the top for rugby to thrive long term.”
Dr Forrest had a long and constructive conversation with incoming RA Chairman Hamish McLennan, who acknowledged the anguish felt by Force fans and players in recent years.
“I am prepared to help out Rugby Australia and new Chair Hamish McLennan in a time of crisis, for the good of the sport.
“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 grass roots and, most importantly, engagement with the fans.”
Dr Forrest stressed the Force agreement to join Australia’s other four premier rugby teams is for 2020 only.
“I developed and launched Global Rapid Rugby across the Asia Pacific region to prove how rugby can be played – fun for the players, fast moving, high scoring and always entertaining.
“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.”
Dr Forrest also acknowledged a group of ex-Wallabies captains led by Simon Poidevin and Nick Farr-Jones.
“I am grateful for their guidance and determination to return rugby to its former glory,” Dr Forrest said.
If the proposed 2020 domestic-only competition gets the green light, the Western Force may have to relocate to the eastern seaboard in line with Western Australia’s strict border closure. Discussions with the WA Government would then continue around possible home games in Perth later this year.