Western Australian of the Year, Mr Andrew Forrest AO, has pledged his full support for the Road Safety Western Force rugby team and called on the Australian Rugby Union board to ensure the game remained truly national.
“It’s critical that this sport does not shrink to the eastern seaboard-only,” Mr Forrest said.
Mr Forrest’s support for rugby extends from the grass roots of the people of Western Australia who love the Western Force. "I stand completely with, and behind, Western Australia to keep this team thriving, not just surviving, but absolutely thriving in the national rugby scene."
Mr Forrest has promised the full spectrum of support.
“It's not just me, it’s all Western Australians who are proud of the Western Force, proud of what’s been achieved,” he said. “We recognise that we can be so much better and we are not going to fail when we’re just starting to excel."
Forrest said his love for rugby was his only motivation for putting his hat in the ring.
"I love the game. I love the community-building spirit," he said. "I love the fact it adds diversity of sport in Western Australia. I particularly respect the collegiality that rugby brings to any community in Australia it becomes part of.”
Mr Forrest also assured the Australian Rugby Union board that his ongoing support for rugby would be contingent upon it remaining a national, not an eastern states-only, sport.
Mr Forrest said he was motivated to get behind the team’s bid to stay in the national competition after witnessing the sheer force of support by all Western Australians.
“I want this sporting team to know that I, as a proud Western Australian, have their backs as does every other person in this state,” Mr Forrest said.
The people of Western Australia are so very proud of this team. The Road Safety Western Force will survive and they will win.”
Mr Forrest was backed by John Welborn, Western Australia’s first born and bred Wallaby player.
“RugbyWA has a history that goes back to 1893. The Western Force is a representative team of Western Australians,“ Mr Welborn said. “This is not a short term, commercial endeavor. The team is linked to the long-term success and growth of rugby for all Australia and it must be supported.”