|Ground(s)||UWA Rugby Park
|League(s)||National Rugby Championship|
The Perth Spirit is an Australian rugby union football team that competes in the National Rugby Championship (NRC). The team is organised and managed by RugbyWA and is based in Perth, Western Australia. The high performance programs utilised by the Western Force in Super Rugby are extended to players joining the Spirit from the Force, the Perth Premier Grade competition and local rugby academy programs.
The Perth Spirit team in the NRC takes its identity from the team of the same name that played in the previous national competition, the Australian Rugby Championship (ARC). The ARC was discontinued following the first season in 2007, but after an absence of six years the national competition was relaunched as the NRC in 2014.
Colours and logo
The Perth Spirit's colours are black and gold, the traditional colours of Western Australia. The 2014 jersey also has a splash of blue under the collar which symbolises the pathway to the Western Force team. The team's logo features a stylised black swan, similar to that of the Western Force although on a gold background instead of the Force's blue. The black swan is the state emblem and state bird of Western Australia.
In 2006, after setting up a consultative process culminating in a working session of some 70 delegates from around the country, the Australian Rugby Union announced that a new, eight-team national competition would commence in 2007 to compete for the Australian Rugby Championship (ARC).
Australian Rugby Championship
With the announcement of a new national rugby union competition, it was known that one of the foundation clubs would be located in Perth - with three teams in New South Wales, two in Queensland and one each in Canberra and Melbourne making up the inaugural eight.
The Perth team's name - Spirit, along with colours and logo were unveiled in March 2007. Some 20 names were considered for the ARC team, with Spirit being the option finally preferred because it was seen to be identifiable as Western Australian and a good fit with the Force name used by the Super Rugby team. RugbyWA Chief Executive, Peter O’Meara, said:
Just as Force taps into the natural elements that have shaped WA, the word Spirit is strong, powerful and dynamic, and reflects the independent, open-minded and entrepreneurial way West Aussies approach things.
At the launch of the new team, it was revealed that John Mulvihill would be the head coach of the Spirit for the inaugural season. Mulvihill was also the Super 14 Western Force attack coach. The team's jersey for the ARC was a traditional design with black and gold hoops.
The ARC competition started in August, with the Spirit playing their first home game on the second weekend of August. The Spirit's home games were played at Members Equity Stadium. At the time, the Western Force did not play at Members Equity but at the larger capacity venue of Subiaco Oval. However, Members Equity Stadium was better suited to rugby due to its rectangular configuration. The stadium had a capacity of around 17,000 in 2007. It has since been expanded to hold over 20,000 and, due to another sponsorship deal, is now known as nib Stadium.
The players in the ARC squad adopted an unconventional name of the "Perth Pigs". The team was captained by half back Matt Henjak after he overcame a back injury. Tai McIsaac was the vice-captain. Perth finished third on the league table after the regular season, and played the Central Coast Rays in a semi-final at Gosford. The Rays won the match 20–8.
The Australian Rugby Championship was terminated at the end of 2007 after only one season of competition, with the Australian Rugby Union citing higher costs than budgeted and further projected financial losses. The Perth Spirit team was disbanded with the end of the ARC competition.
National Rugby Championship
In December 2013, the ARU announced that the national competition was to be relaunched, with the National Rugby Championship (NRC) commencing in 2014. Expressions of interest were open to any interested parties, with the accepted bids finalised in early 2014.
In 2014, it was announced that the Perth Spirit team would be revived to take part in the National Rugby Championship, and that the original logo and black and gold jersey colours would be retained. For the 2014 NRC season, the Spirit secured Western Australian local business the Property Club as the main jersey sponsor on a three-year deal, and non-bank currency specialist AFEX (Associated Foreign Exchange) as shorts sponsor on a two-year deal.
Western Force assistant coaches David Wessels and Kevin Foote were named as joint head coaches of the Perth Spirit for the 2014 season. Dwayne Nestor and Elwee Prinsloo were named as assistant coaches. For the Spirit's first match, Rory Walton was named as captain from an on-field leadership group which also included Kyle Godwin, Luke Morahan, Ian Prior, Heath Tessmann, and Sam Wykes.
2016 NRC Final
Perth Spirit beat the NSW Country Eagles to win the 2016 NRC Final 20-16 at Scully Park.
The Perth Spirit's home matches for 2015 are all at the UWA Rugby Club in Mount Claremont. In previous seasons, matches were played at other locations across Greater Perth, and a match was also hosted in Adelaide to promote the growth of rugby in South Australia. Venues used in previous seasons include:
|Port Kennedy||Rockingham RUC||2,000|
|Adelaide, S.A.||Thebarton Oval||15,000|
- National Rugby Championship
- Australian Rugby Championship
- Playoff appearances: 2007
National Rugby Championship
Year Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts Play-offs 2016 3rd 7 5 0 2 250 210 +40 2 22 Grand final win over NSW Country Eagles by 20–16 2015 6th 8 3 0 5 276 271 +5 4 16 Did not compete 2014 4th 8 3 0 5 301 259 +42 5 17 Grand final loss to Brisbane City by 37–26
Australian Rugby Championship
Year Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts Play-offs 2007 3rd 8 6 0 2 210 138 72 1 25 Semi-final loss to Central Coast Rays by 27–19
2015 Perth Spirit squad – NRC The following players were named in the Perth Spirit's extended squad for the 2015 National Rugby Championship:
- Harry Scoble
- Heath Tessmann (c)
- Chris Alcock
- Hayden Anderson
- Angus Cottrell
- Adrian Hall
- Richard Hardwick
- Kane Koteka
- Alex Rovira
- Auege Seumanatafa
- Brad Lacey
- Byron Hutchinson
- Sevuloni Mocenacagi
- Onehunga Havili
(c) Denotes team captain
- Albert Nikoro
- Daley Harper
1 denotes allocated national player additional to the contracted squad.
2014 Perth Spirit squad – NRC The following players were named in the Perth Spirit's extended squad for the 2014 National Rugby Championship:
- Richard Hardwick
- Matt Hodgson1
- Kane Koteka
- Brynard Stander
- Corey Thomas
- Ross Haylett-Petty
- Ben McCalman1
- Alex Rovira
Fullbacks1. Allocated national player additional to the contracted squad.
2007 Perth Spirit squad – ARC
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- NESTOR NAMES 36-MAN PERTH SPIRIT SQUAD
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