The Western Force is an Australian professional rugby union team from Perth, Western Australia. They currently participate in the Super Rugby competition, which they were removed from in 2017 before being reinstated permanently in 2022 for the Super Rugby Pacific season. In their years away from Super Rugby, the Force competed in the National Rugby Championship from 2018 to 2019, followed by Global Rapid Rugby from 2018 to 2020.
The Force is coached by Simon Cron, who was appointed just before the 2023 Super Rugby season. Cron used to be assistant coach at the Waratahs and head coach at Japanese side Toyota Verblitz before taking on the coaching mantle at the Western Force.
The Western Force were founded in 2005 and made their debut in Super Rugby in the 2006 season. In their first game they played at home and faced a strong Brumbies side, where they ended up losing 25–10. The Force did not start their debut season the way their fans would have wanted, losing several games in a row. They ended up taking the longest of any side to get a point on the Super Rugby table. This came after seven matches when they lost narrowly to the Stormers.
One of the biggest highlights of the Force’s debut season was when they drew 23-23 to the Crusaders, who were then the reigning Super Rugby champions. Another high point came soon after this dramatic game, when the Force signed Matt Giteau from the Brumbies who would join for the 2007 season. Giteau was a highly valued prospect and became the highest paid player in the Super Rugby competition at the time and indeed, the history of all Australian football codes. On top of singing Matt Giteau, the Force also managed to sign Drew Mitchell from the Reds. These were the few things worth celebrating in what was an otherwise disappointing start to the Perth side’s Super Rugby campaign.
Unfortunately, apart from a decent 2007 season in which they finished 7th, success eluded the Western Force for the following decade. They failed to qualify for the playoffs in any season and in 2017, before the start of the 2018 Super Rugby season, the Force were removed from the competition, with SANZAAR deciding to cut the number of teams from 18 to 15.
Following this dramatic turn of events, Andrew Forrest, a wealthy Australian businessman, organised the launch of an Indo-Pacific Rugby tournament. This competition would comprise the Western Force and other teams from the Indo-Pacific region and would be called Global Rapid Rugby.
The Global Rapid Rugby competition began in 2019 and consisted of a series of showcase matches with the competition adopting a full home and away round-robin format for the 2020 season. The Force came up against teams from Fiji, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Samoa and Singapore.
Concurrently with their participation in Global Rapid Rugby, the Western Force played the 2018 and 2019 seasons in the National Rugby Championship, the second-tier competition of Australian rugby union. The Western Force finished 3rd in the 2018 season and ended up winning the competition in 2019 after they eased past the Canberra Vikings 41–3 in the final.
When COVID-19 struck in 2020, the 2020 Global Rapid rugby season and the Super Rugby season were cancelled. Rugby Australia responded to the restrictions the pandemic created by establishing an Australian competition known as Super Rugby AU in 2020. The Western Force became a part of this new competition and joined the current four Australian Super Rugby sides.
The Western Force would remain in this competition for 2021 and also in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman which comprised the five Super Rugby AU teams and the five Super Rugby Aotearoa teams.
During this ad-hoc Super Rugby arrangement, the future of the competition was up in the air. Eventually, once restrictions began to ease in 2022, a new competition with 12 teams was established. This competition marked the comeback of the Western Force in Super Rugby, along with the four other Australian Super Rugby sides, the five New Zealand sides, the Fijian-based team Fijian Drua, and Moana Pasifika. The Force experienced a decent if unspectacular return to life in Super Rugby, missing out on the playoffs by one point.
The Western Force squad for the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season consists of the following players:
The Western Force plays their home games at HBF Park, previously named Perth Oval, which has a capacity of 20,500. In their first four seasons, the team played their home games at Subiaco Oval.
For everything you need to know about the Western Force, including their upcoming fixtures and all the latest news, visit the team’s official website.