The Western Force, removed from Super Rugby before this season, will return in a series of invitational matches, known as World Series Rugby.
Western Force Returns After Super Rugby Axing
Billionaire mining businessman Andrew Forrest, has announced the Western Force will return in a series of seven invitational matches known as World Series Rugby.
After being axed from Super Rugby there was concern the club would not get any significant competition before the National Rugby Championship (NRC) starts later on this year.
The NRC is the third-tier competition in Australia, where the Western Force will replace Perth Spirit.
So to get prepared, the Force will play in seven matches including contests against international sides like Fiji and Samoa, along with bouts against Super Rugby sides, the Crusaders and Melbourne Rebels.
“We have rebuilt the Western Force as we develop our tournament and we now have a wholly integrated community and high-performance club as the foundation of the future competition,” Forrest said.
“We have serious ambitions for this great team and for rugby in our region and intend to see these ambitions through, starting today with the launch of World Series Rugby.”
Western Force legend Matt Hodgson had this to say on the new World Series: “This series offers a strong future for rugby in Western Australia. The Western Force are a quality outfit that have attracted interest from some of the best teams in our region.
“These matches are going to be fast and exciting and will offer a new experience for rugby fans in WA and across the Asia Pacific region.”
Jacque Fourie Returns
Of course, due to the axing, the Force lost some notable players to Super Rugby sides. For example Wallaby Adam Coleman has switched to become the captain of the Melbourne Rebels.
The Western Force announced their squad alongside the fixture list, and there are some interesting additions. Chief among which is the return of 72-cap Springbok Jacque Fourie.
Coming back from retirement, Fourie will give unquestionable experience and know-how to a team that desperately needs it.
Some other notable inclusions are Italy international Josh Furno, ex-Saracens player Kieran Longbottom, and Olympic Golf medalist Masivesi ‘Ro’ Dakuwaqa – who after winning Sevens gold with Fiji in the 2016 Rio Olympics, tried his hands at league with Canberra Raiders.
Additionally, Peter Grant returns to the squad after a distinguished career with the Stormers.
“The squad has an important spread of youth and experience and we are delighted that the players have committed to the club,” new Force coach Tim Sampson said.
“The players have joined from many different clubs throughout Australia and internationally, so it is fantastic that we have players like Ian Prior, Peter Grant and Marcel Brache and others who have been with the Western Force previously.”
The Force kick-off World Series Rugby against Fiji on May 4 with their final game coming on August 17 against a team yet to be announced. The games against the Rebels and Crusaders will be played in June while Super Rugby pauses for the Test window.
Aj Alatimu, Chris Alcock, Marcel Brache, Masivesi Dakuwaqa, Rod Davies, Andrew Deegan, Tevin Ferris, Jaque Fourie, Josh Furno, Peter Grant, Chris Heiberg, Rodney Iona, Feleti Kaitu’u, Brad Lacey, Kieran Longbottom, Ryan Louwrens, Cameron Orr, Harrison Orr, Leon Power, Ian Prior, Harry Scoble, Tom Sheminant, Brynard Stander, Elliot Turner, Clay Uyen, Fergus Lee Warner
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