Still no competition invite for Western Force
REACTION: The Western Force say they have yet to receive a formal invitation to compete in Rugby Australia’s mooted domestic competition scheduled to start in July.
RA on Monday released a return-to-play strategy with the aim of starting a five or six-team 12-week competition featuring the Western Force and possibly Japan’s Sunwolves alongside Australia’s four Super Rugby teams.
The original five-nation Super Rugby competition was suspended in mid-March because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
But Global Rapid Rugby chief executive Mark Evans has issued a statement on behalf of the Force as “clarification”.
“The Western Force has not to date received a formal invitation to participate in the proposed 2020 Australian domestic competition,” Evans said.
“There may be some interest on our part, but to suggest the Western Force has agreed to participate is inaccurate.
“Until an invitation, complete with full competition details and arrangements, is forthcoming and has been agreed to, the Force will continue to review a range of playing options for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.”
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The Force were cut from Super Rugby in 2017 but seemingly feature very much in Rugby Australia’s plans for a replacement competition it hopes to kick off on July 4.
“The Western Force have been involved in our whole COVID-19 working group – we’ve had weekly phone calls involving their key staff as we’ve dealt with this whole pandemic,” said RA’s Anthony French, head of professional rugby at RA.
RA’s general manager Ben Whitaker said the Force wouldn’t even require more players from other states squads to be competitive.
“At this stage they are well set up to present a professional team,” Whitaker said.
“As they would have been doing in Global Rapid Rugby, so there’s been no requests or exchange of ideas round that.
“They feel that they are well serviced with the squad they have got.”
Coached by Tim Hampson, the Force squad contains 35-year-old former All Blacks lock Jeremy Thrush, former NSW Waratahs flank Chris Alcock, former Queensland Reds hooker Andrew Ready and veteran hooker Heath Tessman.
Other players include skipper Ian Prior, Marcel Brache, Kieran Longbottom and Brynard Stander.