Rugby Union 1 year ago

ARU boss blown away by Force support

  • ARU boss blown away by Force support

    PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA - APRIL 08: A young Force fan shows his support during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Force and the Crusaders at nib Stadium on April 8, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver says he's been impressed by the Western Force's community support, saying it could prove to be the deciding factor that saves the Super Rugby franchise.

The future structure of the Super competition remains up in the air, with the very real prospect teams from South Africa and Australia could be cut.

If Australia are forced to axe any of their five franchises, the financially-troubled Force appear to be the most vulnerable.

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Earlier this year, the ARU formed an alliance with the Force in what was effectively a financial bailout.

At the time, it was believed the Force would have at least four years up their sleeve to prove they were worth keeping in the competition.

However, an Australian franchise could now be cut as early as 2018.

With the fight for survival on in earnest, the Force have been working hard behind the scenes in recent months to find a way to turn themselves into a financial powerhouse.

The Force have since launched the 'Own the Force' campaign in a bid to become Australia's premier publicly-owned club.

Around 4500 people have already expressed their interest in buying the $1000 certificates on offer.

The Force aim to sell around 5000 certificates in what would raise $5 million for the club.

Pulver said the initiative could prove decisive in the Force's fate.

"I think any initiative which reflects the popularity of our game in this state is going to be a positive," Pulver said.

"I give great credit to the rugby fans in WA. They've stood up and made sure they've been heard over the last couple of months, and that really matters.

"We've got a couple of months to work through it at a SANZAAR level to determine what the final outcome of the future of the Super Rugby competition is going to be.

"But believe me, the initiatives that are being undertaken here, they really count.

"As someone who represents the governing body, I can tell you they matter. They make a difference."

Pulver said SANZAAR was likely to meet again at the end of February to make a decision on the competition structure, and whether any teams needed to be cut.

Force and Wallabies great Nathan Sharpe is desperate to see the Perth-based franchise survive, and is part of a group of current and former players willing to buy certificates.

"I think it would be tragic to see it not work out," Sharpe said.

"I think with the events of the last couple of months and the momentum that's been created by the supporters, I think that really proves a point about how much the Force means to the community.

"At the end of the day, that's what rugby's about."

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