There was some talk of a vote being taken by RugbyWA members on whether to rename the Spirit to the Force. Some of the commentary from RUPA does not bode well for the Indo Pacific comp, but at least there will be a team from The West for another three years in the NRC — which was NOT on the agenda of the perfidious Rugby Australia initially.
NRC: Perth Spirit wins lifeline under CBA
WAYNE SMITH: The Australian, January 11, 2018
It’s a slender lifeline at best but the future of the Perth team in the National Rugby Championship has been secured until the end of the current broadcast deal in 2020 by the collective bargaining agreement jointly announced yesterday by Rugby Australia and the Rugby Union Players Association.
According to Rugby Australia, the future … was never in doubt. The only issue was whether the NRC itself might change, becoming either a national club championship or perhaps was merged with Andrew Forrest’s planned Indo Pacific Rugby Championship. Either way, according to the national body, it was always intended to maintain a Perth component.
RugbyWA chairman John Edwards remembers the conversation somewhat differently. When Perth’s Super Rugby team, the original Western Force, was about to be shut down, he recalls it was Rugby Australia’s intention to also close the NRC team
on the grounds it would quickly lose its competitive edge following the Force’s demise.
“It was definitely under threat,” Edwards told The Australian yesterday. “We had to fight hard to keep it. In the end, they (Rugby Australia) felt they couldn’t do with any more bad press.”
RugbyWA’s hope now is to keep its NRC team competitive by recruiting former players who have relocated to Super Rugby franchises in the eastern states — particularly those who have still maintained homes in Perth. The plan is to find a recently retired Wallaby who is still fit enough to lead the team and show the youngsters what’s needed at Super Rugby level.
… “We remain very open-minded about what future professional rugby competitions might look like,” said RUPA chief executive Ross Xenos …
… “Clearly not having a Super Rugby team in WA is a setback but if the collective view is that we need to put measures in place now to potentially reintroduce a professional team in WA
in the future (and) maintaining a rugby pathway for young rugby players is an absolutely critical step,” Xenos said.
“If we did not have that (NRC) team there, what would the pathway look like for aspiring players in WA? If they didn’t have that semi-professional team to aim for, how would they be seen in the shopfront competition?”
Yet the demise of Super Rugby in the west is already being felt. Even before the 2018 season begins, virtually no east coast players have moved to Perth to play in the club competition, as they have done in considerable numbers in years past in an attempt to impress Force recruiters.
Read more: Clicky