As 2016 ticks down, rugby.com.au is looking back at some of the biggest moments and storylines of the Australian rugby year.
What will become of the Force?
It was a tumultuous season for Australia’s second-youngest Super Rugby franchise on and off the field, with the Force slumping to the bottom of the Australian conference and falling into financial trouble.
By the middle of June, coach Michael Foley’s tenure had ended and the ARU had taken on the franchise in a pioneering alliance agreement.
Under that new arrangement, RugbyWA CEO Mark Sinderberry would report into the ARU Board, with the Force’s rugby program also coming under the ARU high performance department.
The alliance was the first move towards a more centralised Australian rugby scene, with the governing body believed to be attempting to take all the franchises into its stable.
Despite a more secure financial future, low crowds and poor results coupled with dwindling interest in Super Rugby meant rumours of the Force’s potential axing from the competition only intensified through the year.
With SANZAAR undergoing a review of the entire Super Rugby format, the look of the tournament could change from 2018 and the Force was the team immediately thrown into speculation in reports of teams on the chopping block.
With new coach Dave Wessels at the helm, the Force has been vocal in trying to keep its future in the competition viable, embarking on a fan-based ownership campaign, that echoes moves by the Green Bay Packers and FC Barcelona, allowing members of the public to purchase one-off stakes in the club.
Current and past players have jumped on board, with the franchise saying it has been overwhelmed with pledges for the 5000 $1000 ownership certificates, that would in effect raise $5 million in revenue for the battling franchise.
Success in the campaign won’t necessarily guarantee their survival in the competition, but the public support has grabbed the attention of rivals and spectators across the country.
Take a look back at the rest of the countdown.Number 6. Brumbies vs Michael Jones