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Thread: How do we turn the Force into a force?

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    How do we turn the Force into a force?

    Some thoughts from a friend of mine - Mick Skehan. A great read even if he is a Tah!


    My name is Michael Skehan, I’m a Waratahs fan who lives in Western Australia who played rugby in country NSW before moving to “the West” for work reasons and as a result have signed up as a member of the Western Force as I love rugby union and try to get to as many games as possible around work rosters.

    Recently there has been a lot of comment in the media by people with a lot more experience and profile in Rugby Union in Australia than me regarding the current and future of the Western Force including but not limited to John Connolly, Matthew Burke, Greg Martin and several journo’s from various media outlets in Sydney and Brisbane. I am sure that they are not sure of all the facts regarding the Western Force like myself but they are all entitled to their opinion as I and every other fan is as well, I am taking the time to write my opinion on the present and future situation regarding rugby union in Western Australia.

    Player Depth

    This is a problem not only in Australia but South Africa at the moment due to the number of teams that each nation has in super rugby, while it is encouraging to see the couple of West Australian juniors in the ranks the continuing problem that the Force have in the foreseeable future is attracting talent form the east coast. Like it or not and I love it but we live in the most remote city in the world and players from NSW and QLD have shown their reluctance to relocate. How I would sell it to the players we are aiming to recruit is explain how good it is living in Perth, I have lived and worked in all five cities in Australia that have super rugby franchises and this is by far and away the best of them to live in hands down, we have beautiful beaches, parks, good amenities, solid shopping centres and a developing food, coffee and street food culture. I’m sure if you asked Matt Hodgson or the Honey Badger how good it is to live here I’m sure they would be happy to share this with future players, living here is great and if you sell the players not just the playing side of been in Perth but the wonderful lifestyle and the future opportunities for a post rugby career I’m sure we could attract and maintain the playing talent we need in the short to mid-term future.

    Production Line of future players

    I’m not a coach and have no intention of doing so as I like my hair and it been brown……. But as in the above subject there needs to be some strategic planning done for the future of not only Force players but Rugby Union in general in Australia, due to the number of different sports and the opportunities available to kids in Australia this really has to be done at grass roots levels, while it is encouraging to see the number of Juniors that are coming through the club ranks in Perth realistically the Force are another 8-10 years off been self-sufficient with supplying players from the Perth club comp on a regular basis. My suggestion is this, use all the ex Force players that are now either living on the East Coast in Europe, South Africa, England or wherever they may be, get them to be talent scouts or spotters in the first case and make potential players known to the recruitment team and if they have the potential get them on a retainer contract where you can monitor their progress while still at school with a 1st and last option on their services when they finish school and hopefully they end up representing the Force into the future. Ex players don’t have to be paid to do this for the Force but can prove invaluable or priceless for the service that they provide.

    Time taken to be successful

    ex Wallaby Matt Burke was critical of the Force in the column that he wrote in the SMH a few weeks ago and some of the points he made were warranted and some weren’t, I pointed this out to him through social media and to his credit he replied and hoped to be proved wrong in the future. My take on it is this NSW & QLD for the best part of 120yrs have provided 99% of Wallabies with all their infrastructure, history, strong club and country comp’s and yet between them only have two Super Rugby titles so expecting a club that is 11yrs old that started from scratch in a non rugby area to be successful is naïve or short sighted at best. As somebody who has been fortunate enough to have grown up and played in a traditional rugby state and seen the number of steps that players have to take to be successful at playing rugby at the highest level and the number of players that are competing for those spots I can see that the Perth club comp is still at a development stage and while it will improve into the future what I suggest we do to help the Force be successful is this, In Perth we have a high number of expat Kiwi’s South Africans and English rugby people who I’m sure have a lot more rugby knowledge and experience than me that could help rugby in the west at all levels of playing and financial involvement. Working towards this collectively is for the good of rugby is only going to help the Force be successful both on and off the field.

    Travel

    Sanzaar have openly admitted that the Force are used to accommodate stopovers for teams travelling to and from South Africa and New Zealand, part of been the world’s most remote city we do have to realise that we are going to have to travel more than some other clubs but if we are to accommodate all the South African and New Zealand teams really need to get there scheduling in order so that we aren’t travelling for the sake of travelling. If this means the season is broken into four sections of 4 homes games 4 away etc. The Force are a much a part of this competition as the Stormers and Crusaders and should be treated accordingly, the comp needs the Force as much as we need them so there needs to be some equal or fairer treatment at the planning table, also looking at how other sports that travel large distances regularly such as the Wellington Phoenix in the A-League and how they plan prepare and recover from the travel involved may help the Force.

    Planning for the future financial success

    From what I have read over the last little while the Force have been taken over by the ARU from a financial perspective, while this is not ideal for either party I’m sure it’s going to benefit both parties in the future. The ARU are not going to want to have to prop up the force financially in the long term so they are going to start looking for financial injection, from other areas, the financial districts of Chatswood and North Sydney are less than five mins drive from the ARU offices in St Leonards and hold some of the larger multinationals who already support rugby in Vodaphone, Citibank and Buildcorp so I’m sure it isn’t that big a hassle to go and see them to gauge their interest in sponsoring the Force into the future. In Perth we have some large companies in Rio BHP Woodside and various other with financial clout who may very well be coerced into helping the force into the future including the airlines that fly teams in and out of Perth on a week to week basis and are profiting from rugby in Perth so it may be reciprocated into the future for the good of rugby. The Force seem to have some solid sponsors who support the club year in and out but for the good of the club we need to secure a major sponsor, even if it is for a little bit less than what other clubs are getting sell it to them as any publicity is good publicity no matter how they are travelling on the field.

    At a supporter level I would look at focusing on increasing membership amongst Glory and Scorchers fans as the bulk of our season is played when they are in there off season, whether that be through joint membership or a discounted force membership if you are a Scorchers or Glory member it would be a way to increase game attendances and financial input. Another way to increase financial input would be to lower gate prices for cash tickets or one off attendees, a crowd of 25,000 paying $10 to enter the ground as opposed to 10,000 paying $35 is going to get a larger return in food, beverage and merchandise sales where the margins and cash input are higher, it also increases the atmosphere and will only increase crowds into the future as fans will be encouraged to bring their family and friends to future games.
    Suggestions on how the Western Force can be improved in future season.

    A Traditional Jersey

    A rugby jersey is something that should be worn with pride and this belief was instilled to me by the older players and old boys from within our club and I think this is something that the Force could do with. While there is an emphasis on player numbers in a similar manner to the baggy green for cricketers and I respect that I would like to see a traditional rugby jersey in a similar manner to the Stormers, Waratahs or Reds have in super rugby. Whether that jersey has horizontal stripes in a similar manner to the Barbarian jersey or Bath in the UK or is a plane jersey like the six nation jerseys or a large V on the front make a decision and stick with it so that the jersey can be worn into the future to gain some history. While I personally like the Western Force jerseys I think they have suffered from having too many variations. If you look at other sports everybody knows Chelsea play in blue, Fremantle play in purple and the Canberra Raiders play in green, if you asked the bulk of other supporters would they tell you the Force play in Blue ? Black ? Yellow ? White ? even though it is a combination of all the colours. Also make these traditional jerseys in a traditional rugby cotton fabric so they are more comfortable for supporters to wear in the Perth Climate.

    Stand alone games

    Like it or not and I don’t Aussie Rules totally dominates in Perth, the fact that the two AFL teams in Perth are hardly setting the league alight this year but are still drawing large crowds means the Rugby needs to look at other ways to increase the crowds on match day, in consultation with the ARU I would look scheduling Force home games on weekends when there are no AFL games. Also look at a traditional Anzac day match, each year the Brumbies play Hurricanes in Canberra and the Waratahs play the Rebels on Anzac day, in the draw have it that we always play the Chiefs in Perth on Anzac day in the same way the Dragons play the Roosters at the SFS on this special day so that it becomes a tradition that all fans can plan the day around.

    Saturday and Sunday Afternoon Rugby

    Yes Perth is in its own time zone for super rugby and one of the big selling points for the Force gaining entry to the competition was that it could provide a second game on a Friday and Saturday night. In negotiation for been the team that accommodates all the other teams travel I think the Force would be well within their right to look at day games next year and into the future. While the Perth climate isn’t really affected by early evening and night dew like Sydney and Brisbane there is still a lot more ball in hand running rugby played in the sunshine as opposed to night games and tell me anyone who’s reading this who doesn’t prefer running rugby where teams are throwing it coast to coast than constantly kicking for field position as can happen in night games. If we can have day games in New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and on the East Coast surely we are all entitled to the same in the West.

    Test Matches and Scratch Matches

    At the moment the Force are not overly affected by test selection of players, I really hope that this changes into the future for the good of both rugby in WA and for the Wallabies. If the June break for test matches is going to continue into the future as it appears I would like to see a scratch or inner club game for the Force while the test matches are been played on the East Coast. Have a game each week at McGillivray Oval or take it to Soaks Neddies or Wests ground in Doubleview where the fans and members can turn up and watch their favourite players as well as reserves and players of the future where they can interact with the players after the game in a traditional rugby atmosphere with a BBQ and catering with the crowd a metre off the sideline behind a rope. When I played one of the best games of the year was the inner club trials played during the preseason just for the interaction and banter or sledging between both the players and club members and supporters on these days. An example of how this works really well is look at how well the Perth Spirit are supported in the NRC, Quality rugby that’s played in an informal situation where you can sit on the hill with your mates and it’s not an expensive day out. With Test matches that are to be played against South Africa and Argentina over the next two years in Perth plan to have the Wallabies in Perth for at least a week before hand for the PR and media opportunities as well as the chance for the fans to meet them through junior training clinics or open training sessions at suburban grounds in the lead up to the test, that way it doesn’t give the impression they are contractually obliged to be here by flying in two days before the game for a captains run and then leave the morning after the game.

    A Mascot or Nickname

    While the Western Force are informally known on the East Coast as the “Skins” it would be good to see them have a mascot or nickname that they can wear with pride. The Brumbies and their supporters have embraced the nickname the “Horses” to the point where the song that’s played in Canberra when they win is “The Horses” by Daryl Braithwaite. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has ever asked themselves what’s a “Force” and how do you describe it compared to a Chief, a Crusader, a Cheetah or a Bull. Whether this is done by the fans the club or something they have been called by an opposition player or supporter in the same way that “the Rats of Tobruk” embraced there nickname I would like to see this happen, in the same manner that the Perth Glory play “Bound for Glory” when they win at home we need to find a song for the fans to sing. The Melbourne Victory fans chose and started to sing “Stand by me” the John Lennon classic.

    Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this and it has given everybody some ideas for helping the Western Force improve in the short mid and long term and hopefully everyone will realise that as a club they aren’t going anywhere and we all look forward to seeing them be a Force into the future.

    Go Hard Go Low and just run it
    Yours in rugby
    Mick

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    Proudly Western Australian; Proudly supporting Western Australian rugby

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    It's easy, Alison. They already have mass - we just need to apply acceleration.

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    good read and i agree with quite a bit of his points

    Jersey - stop changing!
    Mascot/Nickname - we need a decent song or nickname for the team that we can use. something to build a tradition around.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Like Phil Kearns said, broom the whole place and start from the beginning, New players, new coaches, new colours, new everything.

    I wonder what colours were in his head when he said that...What colours go best with Western Sydney (tosser)

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    Quote Originally Posted by palitu View Post
    good read and i agree with quite a bit of his points

    Jersey - stop changing!
    Mascot/Nickname - we need a decent song or nickname for the team that we can use. something to build a tradition around.
    Jersey - how about gold and black hoops? (similar to the Spirit, but actual hoops, not partial hoops!) The only jersey we'd clash with would be the Hurricanes yellow jersey, and it'd be less of a clash than some we've seen. If they need a change strip (not an away strip, a change strip) then we can use the blue with the black swan design.

    Westie the swan isn't much of a mascot, but how do you have a mascot that's associative with 'Force'? I don't want anything Star Wars related (and George Lucas would probably sue!), so I'd keep Westie until we get a better idea.

    I'm also suspicious of imposed team songs. Team songs should come from the fans, although we seem quite resistant to fan chants. Personally, I think it's not helped by the stadium piping in music or PA announcements at inappropriate times. We were noisier when we had the old East stand without the PA system. Maybe try and get closer links to the Glory as soccer fans are more inventive with their chants (although from the limited number of Glory games I've been to, they weren't that noisy themselves!)

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    Some good ideas in the above post.

    Just some foolow up on a couple of points.

    On the production line comments i would like to point out 3 things that are in place to rectify this going forward. They are the Future Force Foundation, the Super U/20s and the NRC. The future force have had all 3 graduates from the first intake all play super rugby. The second intake has a current Aussie U/20s prop, the WA u/ 20s captain, a former Aussie u/20s lock, 6 South Africans from various South African franchise academies and 1 player from Auckland. While it may take time to consistently produce players year in year out it is going to be crucial going forward that we are able to integrate the u/20s talent in future force into the professional training setup. South Africa was identified 5 years ago as a potential source of up and coming talent and has been pursued with the current 6 players in the future force. With the establishment of the super u/20s there is more opportunity to identify the best young talent from around the country and with the expansion of this comp to more games and possibly trans tasman, this competition will start to churn out many more players than are currently on the radar of the aussie franchises. As for the NRC it has already helped to identify some late bloomers into super rugby. Guys like Ainsley, Matuauto, Rangi and Louwrens are great examples of this. The NRC will also help to bridge the gap for the u/20s players coming through. With talk of the NRL closing down their U/20s competition it will make our super u/20s comp more attractive as an avenue to professional football. I believe with this pathway in place and with a little bit of time and patience, we will start to emulate the Kiwis in terms of producing quality rugby players.

    I agree with the comment about the jersey. While most sporting franchises worldwide use design tweaks year to year to generate income, our jersey has transformed quite dramatically from our original. I was a fan of our original jersey design and its balack and gold alternate strip and would love to see then next incarnation go back towards what we originally had. I would also love to see the original alternate strip make a comeback as it represented where the Force came from and looks 100 times better than a white strip.

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    Last edited by Kalahard; 12-05-16 at 15:15.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalahard View Post
    South Africa was identified 5 years ago as a potential source of up and coming talent and has been pursued with the current 6 players in the future force.
    on that point. Anybody who's still bothering to watch rugby 360 (rugby from all The ones that Fox Sydney cares about angles) would have heard Phil Kearns' sage advice to the management of the Western Force to redirect their recruitment efforts in a different direction to that which they've been using.

    At this point, my ears pricked up, because I was thinking "finally one of these muppets is actually going to engage in a genuine discussion about the game this side of the rabbit proof fence"

    Can anybody guess the source of these untapped riches of rugby talent just begging to be plundered by force recruiting agents?

    South Africa! Does that tosser even read the team lists before commenting of the Force. On Saturday we started with Van Wyk, Stander, Brache and (ok, I get this is a long bow, but he does originate from Africa) Haylett Petty.

    IIRC, there were also several on the bench. That's one fifth of our starting 15 directly as a result of the Force looking to recruit talent from South Africa, not to mention one of our marquee slots, and a bunch on the fringe and in various pathway programs.

    Lack of research in a professional commentator really pisses me off!

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    Veteran chibi's Avatar
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    I'd love to see the Force, and more importantly our WA age-group teams, wearing our State colours again.

    On the recruitment front, does RugbyWA look at the excess numbers in basketball, soccer and Aussie Rules for potential player development? Are they constantly expanding the numbers of rugby union playing schools?

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    Japan and the Pacific Islands for Aussie Super 9's!

    Let's have one of these in WA! Click this link: Saitama Super Arena - New Perth Stadium?

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    The words 'PHIL Kearns' and 'professional commentator' don't really go together.

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    To be fair the Force along with all the other Super teams have to follow the SANZAR directives when it comes to the jersey. I like the blue, we could hardly be "The Sea of Blue" in black and yellow but I think the Spirit and State teams should wear the black and gold.I don't like the idea of day games, most people lead busy lives with work and family and would find it difficult to attend day games. I've never heard of the Force being called the "Skins", where does that come from

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PerthGirl View Post
    I've never heard of the Force being called the "Skins", where does that come from
    We're the "banana skin" team, a chance to slip up!

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    Quote Originally Posted by The InnFORCEr View Post
    We're the "banana skin" team, a chance to slip up!
    Henceforth I shall be going to home games dressed as a banana in pyjamas, eating a banana and will throw banana skins at visiting players while singing about banana republics!

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    to the sounds of Bananarama

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    B - A - N - A - N - A - S

    This shit is ...

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