The coronavirus pandemic will be the source of one of the most unlikely reunification stories in Australian sport, with the Western Force set to be welcomed back into the rugby fold in a five-team domestic competition starting next month.
It will be the first time since 2017 that Australia’s five professional rugby teams will play together, after the Force were rubbed out from Australia’s Super Rugby footprint in a brutal and bitter cost-cutting exercise by then RA boss Bill Pulver and chairman Cameron Clyne.
Provided government restrictions and guidelines on travel and gatherings allow it, the Force are set to play once again against their former Super Rugby rivals the Waratahs, Brumbies, Reds and Rebels, in a national subsitute for the trans-continental Super Rugby competition.
Senior state officials confirmed the news was likely to be announced late on Friday, with the five teams set to play a home-and-away round robin tournament starting on the first weekend of April.
The coronavirus outbreak is the unlikely push factor reuniting two organisations, and the West Australian rugby community, who were two years ago bitter exes.
The pandemic forced billionaire magnate Andrew Forrest to pull the pin on the first full season of Global Rapid Rugby, while Super Rugby’s cancellation and international travel bans forced RA to conjure a broader solution to a proposed intra-conference competition including Japan’s Sunwolves.
More to come