|Location||Perth, Western Australia|
|Region||Western Australia, Australia|
|Ground(s)||(Capacity: 20,500) HBF Park|
(Capacity: 4,000) UWA Rugby Park
|Most caps||Matt Hodgson (140)|
|Top scorer||Cameron Shepherd (370)|
|League(s)||Super Rugby AU |
Global Rapid Rugby
National Rugby Championship
1st placed (regular season NRC)
Global Rapid Rugby
(1st) (season abandoned)
Super Rugby AU
The Western Force is an Australian professional rugby union team based in Perth, Western Australia. The team competes in Global Rapid Rugby , Australia's National Rugby Championship and in the Australian Rugby Union’s revamped domestic Super Rugby AU competition for 2020.
The Force were invited to participate in the 2020 domestic Super Rugby competition, after the ARU backflipped on a previous decision to axe them two years earlier. The Force were one of the most financially stable of all the clubs prior to the ARU decision. The Force previously played in Super Rugby from 2006 to 2017. As the fourth Australian franchise to join the competition, the Force played for twelve seasons in Super Rugby, with their highest finish being seventh place. In 2017, the Australian Rugby Union reduced the number of Australian Super Rugby teams, and the Western Force lost their licence to participate in the competition at the end of that season.
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The bid for entry into an expanded Super 12 competition started in the early 2000s, when in 2002, a group was formed to oversee developments in the push for a new Australian franchise. The group's objective was to ensure that if SANZAR agreed to a fourth Australian franchise, that RugbyWA would be ready. RugbyWA were invited to bid for the fourth Australian team, and the union assembled a project team, which was given four weeks to formulate their bid. The bid was backed by the state government, which loaned more than one million dollars to RugbyWA, as well as committing $25 million towards an upgrade of the Members Equity Stadium. It was announced in December 2004 that RugbyWA had beaten Rugby Union Victoria for the right to host the fourth Australian franchise.
The first season
On 10 February the Western Force made their 2006 season rugby debut against the Brumbies at a near sold out Subiaco Oval in Perth, losing 25–10. Since this result, the Force have had a difficult debut in Super 14. A one-sided loss to the Hurricanes and an ugly loss at home to the Chiefs in Perth followed. Many fans were unimpressed, with only approximately 23,000 turning up to watch a match against the Bulls. On 31 March, in front of 24,000, the Force came closest to their first win, losing 26–25 to the Stormers at Subiaco Oval. This was after leading 10–0 early on in the match. This was the Force's first competition point ever, and is the longest it has ever taken a side to get a point in Super rugby history (8 rounds/7 matches).
On 21 April a crowd of 32,231 saw the Force nearly pull off the upset of the year, drawing 23-all with the undefeated defending champion Crusaders. Though the Force were leading 7–0 after several minutes the feeling was still that the Crusaders would win, especially after they scored a try seconds later to make it 7–5. Only when the Force had blown the score out to 17–5 did anyone begin to talk of an upset. Leading 20–8 at half time the Force did not hold on for the win after the Crusaders scored two tries and a penalty within the closing half. At 23-all with seconds left the Force crashed over the line but were denied by the television match official.
Two days after the draw with the Crusaders, the Force were able to sign rising star Matt Giteau from the Brumbies, effective with the 2007 season. Giteau, whose contract with the Brumbies ended after the 2006 season, inked a three-year deal reportedly worth A$4.5 million, making him the highest-paid player in the history of any Australian football code.
On Saturday 6 May the Force announced they had managed to sign another player, Reds winger Drew Mitchell. However, during the same week the Force were fined $110,000 after an "independent committee found that Rugby WA had entered a negotiation process with Al Kanaar in a way that was contrary to and in breach of the contracting protocols." The Force notched up their first win by defeating the Cheetahs 16–14 on 6 May.
Indo Pacific Rugby Championship
Following SANZAAR's decision to reduce the number of Super Rugby teams for 2018, the Australian Rugby Union announced in August 2017 that the Force would be one of the teams cut from the 2018 competition. In September 2017, Force owner Andrew Forrest launched the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship, a tournament set to start in March 2019 which will consist of the Western Force and five other teams from the Indo-Pacific region. Several countries – such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore – have already expressed an interest in joining the new competition.
The team has announced a series of matches for 2018 as part of the World Series Rugby, that will include playing Fiji on 4 May, Tonga on 13 May, before embarking on games against the Melbourne Rebels and the Crusaders later in the year, as precursors to the National Rugby Championship (Western Force - Melbourne Rebels 12:28, played on 9 June, Western Force - Crusaders 8:44, played on 22 June).
In 2020, as a result of COVID-19 the regular Super Rugby was cancelled. However a domestic competition, Super Rugby AU, was organised and the Western Force were included along with the existing four Super Rugby teams.
Name and colours
On 19 April, RugbyWA unveiled the franchise team name as well as the logo, at a reception at the Burswood International Resort in Perth. Months of detailed community involvement went into selecting the name for the team. 'Western Force' was chosen as the name, which best reflected the franchise's location (state) and its 'values of strength, energy and community'. The logo was unveiled to be a black swan, which is the state's traditional insignia. The swan is set in a blue background, representing the Western Australia coastline and sky, whilst the gold represented the beaches, mineral wealth and sunshine. Some speculated that the team was going to be called the 'Black Swans'.
In July at function at the same venue as where the logo was unveiled to the public, the Force's jersey and naming rights sponsor was revealed. The home jersey was unveiled on Brendan Cannon, being blue with a black swan. Lachlan MacKay emerged with the side's alternate strip, which was gold with a black swan; black and gold being the State colours of Western Australia. The team's first jersey was auctioned off for $30,000, and the first alternate strip was then also auctioned off for $30,000 as well.
Shortly after RugbyWA won the fourth Australian franchise, an on-line register was set up for members to record their interest. In the space of weeks, 10,000 people had registered. When membership was officially launched in July, more than 13,000 were registered, with around 400 companies expressed interest in hospitality packages. Soon the Force had the largest membership base of any of the Australian Super 14 teams. By the time pre-season had started, the Force had 16,000 members.
Australian Rugby Union CEO Gary Flowers told the media that "people power" was a key factor in Western Australia being awarded the franchise ahead of Victoria. Prior to the announcement, more than 25,500 Western Australians signed a petition in support of their state's bid. In addition, 5,000 people, including the state's premier Dr Geoff Gallop, attended a rally at Subiaco Oval, organised by two rugby mothers "the Scrum Mums" (Jennifer Hoskins and Irma Cooper) to show how much the people of Western Australia wanted the franchise. By the end of the first season, the Force finished with the highest crowd average out of all the Australian teams, despite finishing in last place, the fans still came out to see Wallaby stars such as Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and Nathan Sharpe (though Mitchell and Giteau were not in the 2006 line-up).
The club moved to the Perth Oval for the 2010 season and, with association football club Perth Glory, pushed for an upgrade to the venue which would create a rectangular venue for the two clubs. As of 2019, the stadium is known as HBF Park after WA’s biggest health insurer took over naming rights at Perth’s home of soccer and rugby. The Force were given a limited grant by the government to improve facilities at the stadium, and the capacity was increased to 20,500 in time for the 2010 Super Rugby Season.
Between 2010 and 2011 the State government developed a masterplan for an improved rectangular stadium and then completed a business case which saw $88million dollars allocated to the first stage which was to include a new permanent East stand, new lights, two video replay boards, LED signage at pitch level, replacement of the playing surface and replacement of the south scaffold stand with new scaffold. A Project Definition Plan was then completed and following this, the government allocated a further $7.14million to add corporate amenity including 48 corporate boxes and a 250-seat BBQ deck to the new Eastern stand.
In June 2012 builder BGC were awarded the head building contract for the project and on 7 June 2012 the Minister for Sport and Recreation Terry Waldron MLA announced that hard work by the project team, led by the Department of Sport and Recreation, and a keen price by builders would enable the south stand to become a permanent, unroofed structure rather than new scaffold. It was completed in September 2013, with a capacity of 20,441.
RugbyWA's two elite development squads just below full-time professional level are the Western Force A and WA Under 19 teams. These teams are closely aligned with the Western Force and train at McGillvray Oval, the training base used by the Force. RugbyWA also previously fielded a separate National Rugby Championship team, the Perth Spirit, until the end of season 2017 but competed in this tournament as the Western Force from 2018. From 2019 the Development Team, Perth Gold, competes in Emerging State Championship.
Western Force A
The Western Force A team plays matches against interstate and international representative teams, and has also competed in tournaments such as the Pacific Rugby Cup. Teams known by various names over the years including Western Force A, Western Force Gold and Force Academy have been selected from the best emerging rugby talent in Western Australia. The current squad is a mix of Western Force contracted players, Force Academy players from elite youth programs, and selected Premier Grade club rugby players.
In 2006 the Western Force Gold, playing in the traditional gold and black colours of Western Australia, undertook a two-week tour to South Africa. The team played the Golden Lions and Blue Bulls before returning home to Perth to play Manu Samoa and Japanese Top League teams Toshiba and Yamaha. In 2008, the Force Academy beat the Singapore national side by 113–7.
- 2019 Emerging States Championship Champions
The Western Force under 19 side plays in the URC competition. Western Australian teams played in the Southern States Tournament up until 2015 and also played occasional matches against other representative sides such as Pacific Rugby Cup teams. Prior to 2008, state colts teams at under 21 and under 19 age levels were fielded in national tournament but these teams were consolidated as under 20s ahead of the inaugural World Rugby U20 Championship. In 2018, an under 19 age limit was reinstated for the state colts teams.
National Rugby Championship
Global Rapid Rugby
^* Summary of all matches in the 2019 Global Rapid Rugby season, including the Asia and Pacific showcases.
- Global Rapid Rugby
- National Rugby Championship
- World Club 10s
- Champions: 2016
^a Western Force won both the Asia and Pacific showcases in an undefeated 2019 Global Rapid Rugby season.
The squad for the 2020 season is:
|Western Force – 2020 Global Rapid Rugby [A][B][C][D][E][F][G]|
|Bold denotes player is internationally capped. (c) Denotes team captain. SRAU denotes a signing for the Super Rugby AU competition.|
Flanker Brynard Stander.
Winger Marcel Brache.
Centre AJ Alatimu.
- John Mitchell (2006–2010)
- Richard Graham (2011–2012)
- Phil Blake (2012) (interim)
- Michael Foley (2012–2016)
- David Wessels (2016–2017)
- Tim Sampson (2018–present)
Super 14 and Super Rugby eras
|Competition||Period||Games||Won||Drawn||Lost||Win %||Points for||Average PF||Points against||Average PA|
Most points in a season
Most tries in a season
Most points in a match
Most tries in a match
- First pre-season game – vs the Cheetahs (lost 19–29)
- First season game – Round 1, 2006 vs Brumbies (lost 10–25)
- First try – Scott Fava vs Brumbies
- First points – Scott Daruda (3-point penalty kick) vs Brumbies
- First conversion – Scott Daruda vs Brumbies
- First draw – Round 11, 2006 vs Crusaders (23–23)
- First drop goal – Matt Giteau vs Cheetahs
- First penalty try – Pre-Season 2006 vs Cheetahs (19–29)
- First win – Round 13, 2006 vs Cheetahs (16–14)
- First home win – Round 6, 2007 vs the Hurricanes (18–17)
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In November 2007, Western Force players Scott Fava and Richard Brown were fined and ordered to do community service for mistreating protected native quokkas at a team bonding session on Rottnest Island, 19 kilometres (12 mi) off the coast of Perth.
Eye-witness accounts stated that the players had mishandled the animals, including trapping and throwing them, though none were known to be seriously injured. Alcohol was said to be a factor.
As a result of the actions, Australian Wallaby number 8 Fava was ordered to pay $11,000, attend a week of community service and undergo counselling for alcohol abuse, while flanker Richard Brown was sentenced to a $5000 fine as well as seven days' community service. Both fines were payable to the Rottnest Island Conservation Foundation.
In February 2008, Matt Henjak and Haig Sare were involved in a fight at a pub in Perth. Henjak hit Sare and broke his jaw and was sacked by the Force for misconduct. Haig Sare returned to play for the Force at the end of Season 2008 once his injuries healed.
Firepower funding debacle
Sponsorship payments from the fuel technology company Firepower were a major factor in luring Wallaby star Matt Giteau and others to play for the Western Force in Perth. The luckless Giteau was one of a number of sportsmen owed millions of dollars after the collapse of Firepower. A new consortium offered to cover the Firepower money if Giteau extended his existing contract, however he chose not to, and returned to Canberra to play for the Brumbies.
The RugbyWA Women, previously known as the Western Force Women, play in the Super W competition. The Super W was first played in 2018 and is the top-level 15-a-side competition for women's rugby teams in Australia.
|RugbyWA Women Super W squad|
|(c) Denotes team captain, Bold denotes internationally capped, ST indicated short-term cover and TS indicates a training squad player. |
Year Pos Pld W D L F A +/- BP Pts Play-offs 2019 4th 4 1 0 3 53 86 –33 1 6 Did not compete 2018 3rd 4 2 0 2 154 87 +67 2 10 Did not compete
- "Rapid Rugby 2019 Schedule on show" (PDF) (Press release). Global Rapid Rugby. 1 March 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2019.
- "Force set to continue in 2018 as Rugby WA regain franchise licence". Fox Sports Australia. 10 December 2017.
- "Force cut after arbitration finds in favour of ARU". Australian Rugby Union (Press release). 11 August 2017. Archived from the original on 11 August 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
- "Force hold Crusaders to a draw". planetrugby.com. Archived from the original on 10 September 2006. Retrieved 15 September 2006.
- "Western Force win race for Giteau". planetrugby.com. Archived from the original on 30 April 2006. Retrieved 15 September 2006.
- "Force Fined $110,000 For Breach". MSN. New Zealand. Retrieved 15 September 2006.
- "Western Force culled from Super Rugby competition". Daily Telegraph. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
- "Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest reveals details of new rugby competition". FoxSports. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Andrew Forrest's Indo Pacific Rugby Championship to get underway in 2019". FoxSports. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Indo Pacific Rugby Championship". Indo Pacific Rugby Championship. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Talks strengthen hopes of Hong Kong entering team in Andrew Forrest's Indo-Pacific Rugby Championship". South China Morning Post. 11 November 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "MR Presiden aims Malaysia club participants in IPRC". Ragbi Online. 10 November 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Rugby: Singapore keen on joining new Indo Pacific Rugby Championship". The Straits Times. 10 November 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Renewed Western Force reveal new logo, jumper". The West Australian. 4 March 2018.
- Major Stadia Taskforce – Background
- "The "Empire" strikes again?". ruggaworld.com. 16 May 2006. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "Tatupu claims outside centre berth". rugbywa.com.au. 7 May 2008. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "Community colours". Western Force. 14 February 2020. Archived from the original on 6 March 2020.
- "Local Legend Returns". Western Force (Press release). 14 June 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
- "Holmes joins front row". Western Force (Press release). 12 June 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
- "Former Force players return". Western Force (Press release). 15 June 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
- "Home grown additions impress". Western Force (Press release). 16 June 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
- "Wallabies join Forces". Western Force (Press release). 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
- "Force add All Blacks Experience". Western Force (Press release). 14 July 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
- Gray, Wynne (12 March 2007). "Rugby: Force win as TV replay shows officials' frailty". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 March 2007.
- Chadwick, Justin (27 May 2008). "Firepower debacle hits Matt Giteau, Western Force". PerthNow/The Sunday Times. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
- Magnay, Jacquelin; Ryle, Gerard (28 May 2008). "The game's almost up for Firepower". Rugby Heaven. Fairfax. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008.
- Matt Giteau rejects $1.6m Force offer PerthNow, 1 November 2008
- Giteau to return to Brumbies ABC News, 21 February 2009
- "Super W: RugbyWA Women unveil new squad and old-school look". Rugby.com.au. Archived from the original on 3 April 2019.
- "RugbyWA Women announce new look squad for their 2020 Super W campaign" (Press release). RugbyWA. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2020.