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Western Force part ways with CEO

NEWS: The Western Force are on the lookout for a new chief executive after parting ways with Tony Lewis.

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Lewis was lured to the Super Rugby franchise in 2021 with one massive task – to turn the Perth-based franchise into a world rugby powerhouse.

But his tenure has lasted less than three years, with the Force informing Lewis this week that his services were no longer needed.

Billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest owns the Force.

His Fortescue Metals Group has lost a series of top executives in recent months, but it’s understood the decision to axe Lewis is completely separate from what is happening at FMG.

“After three seasons, Tony Lewis has moved on from the position of Western Force CEO,” a Force spokesperson said.

“The Force is now a critical part of Super Rugby.

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“We are focused on driving the club’s continued success for our members and fans, as well as continuing to help grow rugby in WA.”

Niamh O’Connor, who joined the Force board last week, has been named as interim chief executive.

O’Connor is also the director of the Future Force Foundation and a Rugby Western Australia board member.

Lewis was a highly respected NZ rugby administrator when he was lured to the Force in 2021.

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The challenge of turning the Force into a powerhouse excited Lewis.

“It’s one of the best contracts I’ve ever signed,” Lewis said shortly after joining the Force

“In essence, no real job description, just 10 points and from my perspective, that’s what he [Forrest] wants, that’s what we’ve got to achieve.

“The key ones are strong community base, best team in Australia, best team in the Australia-New Zealand conference, best team in the Southern Hemisphere, best club team in the world.

“We’ve got to know our place in the ecosystem here and quietly go about our business and become the No.1 rugby state in Australia and move onto the next.”

Those lofty ambitions are yet to come to fruition, with the Force struggling to become an on-field power.

Despite eight of 12 teams qualifying for the finals in the remodelled Super Rugby Pacific format, the Force have missed out in each of the past two seasons.

Coach Simon Cron, who is entering his second season at the helm, has been boosted by the arrival of Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White, former All Black Atu Moli, Ben Donaldson, Lopefi Taifua, Harry Hoopert, Will Harris and Harry Potter for the 2024 campaign.

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