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Thread: Bledisloe Cup clash at Perth Stadium unlikely to solve rugby union's ongoing woes in

  1. #1
    Legend Contributor blueandblack's Avatar
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    Bledisloe Cup clash at Perth Stadium unlikely to solve rugby union's ongoing woes in

    The rugby landscape in Western Australia was a lot different when the Bledisloe Cup was the first confirmed event for the then-under-construction Perth Stadium in December 2016.

    WA had a footprint in Super Rugby with the Western Force and the Wallabies traditionally played an annual test match in Perth.

    That is not the case anymore, and for a state that has been starved of elite rugby since the Force was axed, Saturday night will be a chance for Perth fans to again see some of the world's best.

    The first Bledisloe Cup match to be played in the west sold out shortly after going on sale, showing there remains strong support for the code in WA.

    It will be a spectacular event showcasing one of the great rivalries in sport and it will be the only time the All Blacks and the Wallabies play on Australian soil in 2019, in the lead-up to the World Cup in Japan later this year.

    Numbers down as Rugby WA seeks bailout

    But while a one-off event like a Bledisloe match has many benefits, it is unlikely to solve some of the ongoing issues for rugby in WA.

    According to Rugby WA's 2018 annual report, released in June, participation rates had reduced by 20 per cent in senior and 8 per cent in junior leagues in the space of a year.

    The organisation is also trying to negotiate a $1 million debt bailout from the State Government.

    There is no clear timeframe on the Wallabies return to Perth after Saturday.

    Nor, in fact, is it clear if there is an appetite from the WA Government to give Rugby Australia money to secure another rugby Test following the acrimony that came with the Force's demise.

    And while Global Rapid Rugby, the brainchild of mining billionaire Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest, has given WA rugby fans hope, that is yet to be fully realised.

    Global Rapid Rugby yet to spread its wings

    The trial exhibition series of Global Rapid Rugby will end its second season of Friday night.

    Mr Forrest was front and centre of the campaign to save the Western Force when the axe was hovering in 2017, and again when the exhibition series was launched.

    A fully-fledged league was supposed to begin this year featuring the Force and teams from Asia and the Pacific Islands.

    The World Rugby Council conditionally sanctioned Global Rapid Rugby last year with sides set to compete for a $1 million first prize.

    "This is a major moment for the fans and for rugby," Mr Forrest said at the launch.

    "I would like to stress that today's announcement is just the start of the journey. The 2019 competition will evolve into 2020, 2021 and for several years going forward."

    A sport searching for impetus

    The inaugural season was delayed just two months later in January, a month from its scheduled start.

    Mr Forrest has been very quiet publicly on the future of the competition since then and there are few details about what the new league looks like.

    Former chief executive officer Brad Paatsch and some other key staff left the organisation earlier this year.

    A Global Rapid Rugby spokesperson said Mr Paatsch was only appointed on an interim basis and a global search was continuing for his replacement.

    Mr Forrest is back in Perth this week and will be at the Force's game against Malaysia Valke on Friday night, hosting a delegate from Rugby Australia.

    Hopefully that can provide some impetus for rugby in WA, which despite the recent slump, remains the third largest rugby state in the country when it comes to participation.

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  2. #2
    Legend Contributor fulvio sammut's Avatar
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    This is news?

    More like the background information contained in an obituary.

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    That’s a depressing read 😢

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