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Western Force is a rugby union team based in Perthmarker, Western Australiamarker playing in the international Super 14 competition. It commenced competing in the 2006 season and finished with the wooden spoon in their first year, however its performances greatly improved in 2007. In 2008 they finished in 8th and just missed out on the finals again. The team is the fourth Australian team to be accepted into the competition. It is coached by former New Zealandmarker All Blacks coach, John Mitchell.

History

The bid

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 March 31, 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).
The Force run out in their first game against the Brumbies


On April 21 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 AUD 4.5 million, making him the highest-paid player in the history of any Australian football code.

On Saturday, May 6, the Force announced they had managed to sign another player, Red's winger Drew Mitchell. However, during the same week the Force were fined $A110,000 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 Central Cheetahs 16-14 on May 6.

Name and colours

On April 19, 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 Western Australia's sporting colours. 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.

Support

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 lineup).

Stadium

The Force currently play all of their home games at Subiaco Ovalmarker, home of two Australian Football League clubs, the Fremantle Football Club and the West Coast Eagles. The stadium has a capacity of 43,500 and is configured in an oval shape for Australian rules football.

In February 2008 the Government of Western Australia announced that it will build a new multi-purpose sports stadiummarker located on Kitchener Park, next to Subiaco Oval. The stadium is scheduled to be built between 2011 and 2016, with the majority of the stadium being completed in 2014. Seating 60,000 people, it will mainly be used for Australian rules football matches, but will also be the home ground for the Western Force. The stadium will be oval in shape but will also have retractable seating which will reconfigure the venue to make it suitable for rectangular-field sports codes, including rugby.

However, with the defeat of the Labor government who promised this stadium in the 2008 election, it has since been cancelled. Instead, the Force will be looking to move into the 18,000 seat Members Equity Stadiummarker for the 2010 season. The reason for the move to the smaller venue is that it is a rectangular field, as opposed to the oval at Subiaco which is poor viewing for Rugby fans. The Force, along with football club Perth Glory are pushing for an upgrade to Members Equity Stadium, which would create a truly world class rectangular venue for the two clubs. The Force have been given a limited grant by the government to improve facilities at the stadium, and this will see its capacity increase to 20,500 in time for the 2010 Super Rugby Season.

Western Force Gold

Gold playing Yamaha.
Western Force Gold is a team launched by RugbyWA for post-season Super 14 rugby. The team plays in just the gold strip of the Western Force. The team played Manu Samoa, and then went on a two-week tour in South Africa, including games against the Golden Lions and the Blue Bulls. The team then played Toshiba and Yamaha from Japan's Top League. They recently beat the Singapore national team 113-7.

Super 14 positions

{| class="wikitable"


Current squad

The squad for the 2010 season:

Current internationals

As of Australia national rugby union team


Statistics

  • First pre-season game - vs the Central Cheetahs (lost 19-29)
  • First season game - Round 1, 2006 vs the Brumbies (lost 10-25)
  • First try - Scott Fava vs the Brumbies
  • First points - Scott Daruda (3 point penalty kick) vs the Brumbies
  • First conversion - Scott Daruda vs the Brumbies
  • First draw - Round 11, 2006 vs the Crusaders (23-23)
  • First drop goal - N/A
  • First penalty try - Pre-Season 2006 vs the Central Cheetahs (19-29)
  • First win - Round 13, 2006 vs the Cheetahs (16-14)
  • First home win - Round 6, 2007 vs the Hurricanes (18-17)


Controversies

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 Islandmarker, 19 kilometres (12 miles) 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 8Fava was ordered to pay $11,000, attend a week of community service and undergo counselling for alcohol abuse, while flankerRichard 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 Firepowerwere 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 by 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.

See also



References

  1. [www.dsr.wa.gov.au/dsrwr/_assets/main/lib50137/background.pdf Major Stadia Taskforce - Background]
  2. Andrea Mayes, $1.1b sport stadium for Kitchener Park, Subiaco, PerthNow, February 8, 2008
  3. Big State Needed Big Decision For A Big Stadium, Local Media Services Company, February 10, 2008
  4. http://www.austadiums.com.au/news/news.php?id=390
  5. Chadwick J [Firepower debacle hits Matt Giteau, Western Force] PerthNow 28 May 2008
  6. Magnay and Ryle G The game's almost up for Firepower Rugby Heaven (Fairfax) 28 May 2008
  7. Matt Giteau rejects $1.6m Force offer PerthNow, November 01, 2008
  8. Giteau to return to Brumbies ABC News, 21 February 2009


External links



Season
Pos
Pld
W
D
L
F
A
+/-
BP
Pts
2006
14th
13 1 2 10 223 373 -150 4 12
2007
7th
13 6 1 6 276 282 -6 6 32
2008
8th
13 7 0 6 247 278 -31 5 33
2009
8th
13 6 1 6 328 275 +53 10 36
Props

Hookers

Locks
 


Loose forwards

Half Backs

Fly Halfs
 


Centres

Wings

Full Backs


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