Road Safety Perth Spirit
|Ground(s)||UWA Rugby Park|
The Perth Spirit is a former rugby union team based in Perth, Western Australia, that played in the National Rugby Championship (NRC) from 2014 to 2017, winning the competition in 2016. The team was formed in 2007 to compete in the Australian Rugby Championship (ARC).
The Perth Spirit team was organised and managed by RugbyWA. The high performance programs utilised by the Western Force in Super Rugby were extended to players joining the Spirit from the Force, the Perth Premier Grade competition and the Future Force rugby academy.
The identity of the Perth Spirit remained the same throughout team's participation in the ARC and NRC. The team disbanded when the ARC was discontinued after the first season in 2007 but, after an absence of six years, the national competition was relaunched in 2014 as the NRC, and the Perth Spirit was revived. In 2017, however, the Western Force was excluded from the Super Rugby competition. The reformed RugbyWA then decided to enter the Western Force in the National Rugby Championship, replacing the Perth Spirit for the start of the 2018 season.
Colours and logo
The Perth Spirit's main colours were black and gold, the traditional colours of Western Australia. The NRC jerseys also had a splash of blue under the collar to symbolise the pathway to the Western Force team. The team's logo featured 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:
|Perth Spirit's ARC logo and kit in 2007.|
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.
This section needs expansion with: details of 2016–2018. You can help by adding to it. (July 2018)
2016 NRC Final
Perth Spirit beat the NSW Country Eagles to win the 2016 NRC Final 20-16 at Scully Park.
Most of the Perth Spirit's home matches were played at the UWA Rugby Club in Mount Claremont. In their earlier seasons matches were also 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
- Horan-Little Shield
- Season winners: 2017
- Australian Rugby Championship
- Playoff appearances: 2007
National Rugby Championship
Year Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts Play-offs 2017 4th 8 4 0 4 269 237 +32 4 20 Semi-final loss to Canberra Vikings by 40–35 2016 3rd 7 5 0 2 250 210 +40 2 22 Grand final win over NSW Country 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
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- Nestor names 26-man Perth Spirit squad
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