Cheika, Moore, DHP sound off on Force future - Green and Gold Rugby
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Cheika, Moore, DHP sound off on Force future

Cheika, Moore, DHP sound off on Force future

HONG KONG – Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, captain Stephen Moore, and star rookie Dane Haylett-Petty believe Australian Rugby still needs the Western Force.

Rumours that the struggling franchise’s position in Super Rugby is on the chopping block at the next TV rights negotiation have long been circulating in the press.

Quoting poor financial performance, which required an ARU takeover in 2016, and poorer on-field performance, the Force are favourites for the axe if one should fall on a fifth Australian Super Rugby team.

Daniel du Plessis bounces off Marcel Brache and gets concussed and carded

USA Eagle Marcel Brache representing the Western Force

According to the three who spoke to media after the Wallabies 37-21 loss to England, that wouldn’t sit well with them.

“I am one of those that says five is fine as long as we’re all focused,” said Cheika, on the ideal format for Super Rugby in 2018.  “Whatever number they choose is fine and we’ll work with the coaches to get the skill levels up.

“There are definitely issues and you’d be naive not to look at them. We need to be build quality coaching and a good environment around the five Super Rugby teams to improve the level they get to.

“We’ve got to work together to make sure the game stays strong back home,” Cheika continued. “They [The Super Rugby Franchises] are starting to believe that together we are stronger instead of operating like six different teams. They are five different teams, but we are not the sixth. We are the culmination of those five.

“The best environment [for Super Rugby in 2018] is players all playing with great skills and that hunger to play more and more footy all the time.”

“If we build those habits from the NRC to Super Rugby and into [the Wallabies] we’ll start to play less halves of good footy and more full matches.”

Harry Scoble - scored try on debut

Hooker Harry Scoble – scored try on debut

The Western Force’s development side, the Perth Spirit, took out the National Rugby Championship this year using a core ensemble of West Australians including Harry Scoble, Ryan Louwrens, Richard Hardwick and Kane Koteka.

With a new coach in young Dave Wessels and returning Wallabies Dane Haylett-Petty, Luke Morahan, Jono Lance and Adam Coleman joining former Wallabies Ben McCalman and Tatafu Polota-Nau, plus USA Eagle Marcel Brache, 2017 is looking brighter for the Force.

Haylett-Petty, the second ever West Australian to sign with the Force, knows that better than anyone.

“I think having a few more Wallabies should allow us to bring a bit more leadership to that group. We’ve definitely got a talented group there, it’s just how we nurture it and get the group to grow.

“I think they’ve got a great pathway [at the Western Force], we’ve seen so many good young Wallabies come out of that system and I think there’s going to be plenty more.

“Hopefully they make a decision the Force is around for a long time to come. We haven’t had the results on the field but I think the vision was always to grow Walllabies and they’ve definitely done that.

“It’s a great pathway for talented young Western Australians.”

David Wessels has been appointed head coach for the rest of the Force season

33-year-old coach Dave Wessels takes the reigns of the Western Force in 2017

Cutting the Western Force loose would be akin to amputating a leg to trim those troublesome extra kilos before a beach holiday, Stephen Moore thinks.

“I know there’s been a lot of debate around the Super Rugby format, what that best looks like beyond next season.”

“I suppose in Australia the rugby public likes the local derbies,” Moore says. “How we can maximise that across Australia?”

“I know there are big implications surrounding the TV broadcast in the three [sic] countries involved but I think any new product we can bring into the market to make our game better is worth looking at,” he said.

“I saw something about the State of Origin concept, I think that might be something worth exploring.”

There are currently over 100 Australian players plying their trade overseas, of whom roughly 60% are talented enough to play Super Rugby in 2017 according to Michael Cheika.

If the Western Force are jettisoned from Super Rugby in 2018, that number will grow significantly and opportunities for Australian Rugby players to win contracts will fall by 20%.

If you feel having five Super Rugby teams is essential to the future of Australian Rugby, register at http://www.owntheforce.com.au to make your voice heard.

#OwnTheForce

#OwnTheForce

  • paul

    The sad part of this debate is the thinking that we only need 5 franchises, we need more, we should be aiming at 7/8 teams.

    How do we seriously expect to gain market share with just 5 teams.

    yes we need the WA team but we also should have at least another team in NSW.
    Having just one team in your biggest core market is ridiculous.
    Which is obvious when you see rugby struggling to compete against the other codes.

    • Unanimous

      I understand your point, but there’s some confounding issues.
      Rugby has the problem of competing with NZ and Europe for talent.

      If Super Rugby could have a competition wide draft and salary cap, then the teams could be allocated to where it is most beneficial from a financial point of view. With NZ teams keeping their players and coaches and dominating, extra teams in other countries will fail on the field and therefore fail financially. NZ needs to start thinking of themselves a bit like Canada does in relation to the NHL. If Canada kept its players, the NHL would have about 10 viable teams – a much higher standard of play, but way less money.

      The All Blacks can still be strong with 30% of NZ players playing in Australia, but not as strong as when they are all under NZRU control all the time, and the NZRU isn’t about to give up that control because they are totally All Blacks focussed.

      If you assume the NZRU will continue as it always has in the past, then Australia will always be limited in the number of teams it can viably field. 3 Aus and 5 NZ would be competitive.

      But as you point out, it is poor from a marketing point of view, and so we end up with a mismatched comp working mostly as a development league but with a few failed market oriented ventures added to it.

  • Adrian

    TPN also with Force now

  • Tim

    Why are they talking about cutting the Force? South African teams sucked this year. All of them had two games against the sun-wolves which inflated their points on the overall table. The Force will have 5 Wallaby Players next year they will get better.

  • LA

    Unless the Brumbies plan to play all of their matches at the broadcaster friendly time of 930 pm East Coast time then they surely are the ones facing the chop not the Force.

    Makes sense if you take the blinkers off and forget the history (20 years? Is that really history?). Small market, no real chance of corporate sponsorship. Waratahs and Rebels can host a home game or two there each a season. Average crowd of 12000 at home games with only 8500 to a Super Rugby final no matter the weather is not great.

    Brumbies are not under complete ARU control like the Force due to the Brums not wanting to give up their intellectual property but if leaned on enough could see it happening in the future if the financial situation doesn’t improve and the truth of the Griffith headquarters sale was to ever see the light of day.

    Not to worry though seems as though the status quo of maintaining an 18 team Super Rugby comp has regained some steam. So no teams on the chopping block and this is all a bunch of what ifs.

    Great for everyone, that is if you are a broadcaster and administrator not a fan or player.

    • paul

      “The Waratahs can play a home game there”.
      The Waratahs can’t even hold a game in Western Sydney. let alone Canberra.

      And even if they did start moving some games around, just ask where does that leave Sydney, 5/6 games of Super rugby for the year, that will have the other codes shaking.

  • David Mitchell

    There is an issue at the force over how they treat ticket holders/members. I know of people booking boxes who had to call back repeatedly to get people to take their money for tickets. I know of people trying to register as members for next year who were told to call back after the date for current members to reregister finished (IFAIK they didn’t sell out their members seats last year).
    These are serious concerns because they’re simple – “shut up and take the money!. You wonder what else is being missed in poor business management.

  • Simon

    I have high hopes for an improved season for the Force in 2017. They have some quality players, they just need to get the coaching and support structures right. If they can claim a couple of big scalps (like they nearly did against the Crusaders this year) that would go a long way towards building morale and support in the West.

  • Lindommer

    “With a new coach…and returning Wallabies…joining former Wallabies Ben McCalman and Ben Tapuai…”

    Hasn’t Ben Tapuai buggered off to Bath in Blighty?

    • Beagle

      Yes Benny Taps was ‘let go’ to make room for TPN I suspect.

      • The King

        I thought Taps was off in 2018? Might need an edit if that’s not the case.

        • Beagle

          Taps had one more year of his contract to go but was given a release by the club to play in the UK. This allowed for TPN to sign.

  • southern macro

    Western Australian economy going backwards (3.8%) , no big supporter base, can’t make money , unlikely to make money, added costs of everyone travelling.

    Just don’t get it.

    The NRL tried it and canned it.

    Western Sydney has massive population, good dempgraphics and a lot of the players come from the East Cost anyway.

    Look at the success of GWS Giants !!

    Seriously – cut the losses and move on.

    Put the Rebels on the Gold Coast.

    The experiment has failed and the game is losing money – stop losing more

    • Beagle

      OK I’ll bite.

      If Western Sydney have such a massive population, good demographics and a lot of players come from the East Coast then why haven’t the Waratahs done more to benefit from all this rugby gold lying around in Western Sydney?

      The GWA Giants had a very large amount of money thrown at them to be a success. The ARU, until this year, 10 years later, have given WA Rugby zero dollars in assistance. The Waratahs, Reds and Rebels have all been bailed out in that time.

      1/3rd of the Force players in the squad for 2017 come from within the WA local pathways.
      WA has the third highest participation rates in Aus.

    • AllyOz

      NRL had to bail out the Titans and crowd figures have struggled. Previously three incarnations of the club have failed. The GC Suns have struggled where GWS have excelled and Gold Coast United soccer team failed along with a couple of basketball teams. There is an existing pathway for Gold Coast players through Queensland Country and the Reds.
      Western Sydney has a dedicated team in the NRC and two or three teams in the Shute Shield, none of which have done particularly well of late. There are places for those kids to play and be noticed already and if they are good enough and paid well enough they would be just as happy to move to Melbourne (as Israel Folau did as a RL junior) or Perth to play at the next level.
      If you are going to use economic growth as an argument, Victoria actually has higher growth than NSW by several measures so not much sense moving the Rebels on that basis to a poorly performing economy Gold Coast economy. In any case, these things change very quickly and WA was the leading economy a few years ago while NSW was in the doldrums.

      Seems like, with the stronger local representation at the Force that is emerging, that this thing is just starting to bite.

    • Pearcewreck

      No no no Macro,
      You are 100% wrong.

      NRL failed because no one follows or plays league outside of the Eastern Seaboard. Rugby in WA is miles stronger than league.

      Why should rugby do anything for Western Sydney? Forget Western Sydney.
      Why should rugby do anything for Gold Coast? Forget Gold Coast.

      If there ever was a second team in Sydney it should based in the Northern Suburbs, rugby heartland. Also, in the rough square drawn on a map from Manly up to Mona Vale across to Castle Hill down to West Ryde has about 1M people. How many professional sporting teams are based in that location? 1, Manly Sea Eagles in the south eastern corner of that “square”. Nothing else.
      It is a market waiting for a local team. Just need a decent stadium there.
      ARU should lobby government to build a 30-40K seat stadium at Chatswood oval for rugby, league & soccer.

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@http://www.twitter.com/NicDarveniza

Nic is a freelance journalist who first tried his hand writing for Green & Gold Rugby as a schoolboy. Five years on, Nic is our resident expert on Brisbane’s local rugby scene. Catch him on the sidelines commentating School and Premier Grade Rugby all over Queensland’s South-East or at his home ground at the University of Queensland, where he serves as media manager.

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