Matt Hodgson was moved to tears when asked about the future of rugby in WA. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
It has been confirmed an Australian club is set to be axed from the Super Rugby Competition, with speculation growing that it will be the Western Force.
Just minutes after the siren sounded in the Force’s 46 to 41 victory over South Africa’s Southern Kings, the competition’s governing body SANZAR confirmed a restructure for next year, with one team from Australia and two from South Africa set to be cut.
Players from both sides had taken to the field knowing that their futures were uncertain with the SANZAR announcement pending.
Speculation has been rife for weeks that the Force is the Australian side on the chopping block, with many believing it to be a race in two between the WA club at the Melbourne Rebels.
The Australian Rugby Union is set to hold a media conference, but it is believed to be unlikely that a final decision has been made.
Instead, it is expected the ARU will undergo a process to determine the best decision for the sport.
Force stalwart Matt Hodgson was moved to tears when asked about what the death of the Force would mean for the sport in WA, in particular for youngsters who previously may have aspired to play elite rugby.
“Yeah being a parent myself, you don’t know where to put your kid now, do I put him in rugby or do I put him to stay in Western Australia playing AFL, so it’s frustrating,” Hodgson said.
“I think the way it’s been done is probably the most annoying thing, it’s dragged on.
“I’ve done four press conferences this week and I’ve had one rugby question, and that’s annoying.
“For kids to turn up here that’s great, but now they don’t know if the Western Force is going to be their future.”
The Force is currently owned by the ARU after recent financial difficulties, which has led many to believe cutting the Perth based side will be the easiest option, as opposed to the privately owned Rebels.
The Force joined the competition in 2006 and was immensely popular in its early years, attracting impressive crowds.
But since the club has performed poorly on the field, as well as facing off field controversies, financial issues, and declining attendances and public interest.
The Force argues that a strong sponsorship base, and its recent history of developing local talent, should see it stay in the competition.