Billionaire Forrest throws hat into Force ring

Sat, Jul 15, 2017, 12:11 PM
Beth Newman
by Beth Newman
The Western Force have saved their best performance of the season for their last, sending their spiritual leader and captain Matt Hodgson out in style by trashing the Waratahs at home.

Celebrations had barely begun for the Western Force after their round 17 win over the Waratahs, before a strange twist occurred that no one could see coming.

West Australian billionaire Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest stood in the middle of the post-match huddle and declared to players and staff that he would throw his considerable wealth behind them, 'whatever it takes'.

Forrest is a high-profile businessman and philanthropist, and though what difference his funds might make remains to be seen, that he made such a public declaration was an intriguing moment to say the least.

The high-profile figure told his words after the game were simple.

"The people of Western Australia are determined to keep the Western Force in Western Australia," he told

"We’re not here just to survive, we’re here to really succeed.

"I stand completely with and behind Western Australia to keep the Western Force thriving, not surviving, absolutely thriving in Western Australia and in the national rugby scene."

When asked what kind of support he was talking about, he strayed from details, but the sense is that financial support is high on that list, along with a group of wealthy backers.

"The full spectrum of support," he said.

"It's not just me, it’s people who support me, who I support right across the broad spectrum of Western Australia, who are proud of the Western Force, proud of what’s been achieved, recognise that we can be so much better and are not going to let us be snuffed out 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 which rugby brings to any community it’s part of."

Force coach Dave Wessels said post-match that Forrest's declaration was a pretty significant one.

"Twiggy’s support is pretty indicative of the support we’ve got from WA in general and to have somebody of his stature come into the circle and tell the team that he’s going to throw his weight behind us and wants to see us remain in WA and Super RUgby is a pretty special moment," he said.

"So obviously thank you to Twiggy but also thank you to all the board and fans who’ve worked tirelessly off field. They don’t get all the credit they deserve but really they’ve put in a huge amount of effort to keep our fight alive.

"Hopefully we get some resolution on that soon."

Wessels said Forrest hadn't elaborated on the specifics of his support, or level of financial backing he might be prepared to supply.

"He didn’t really go into those details, he said he’s behind us in whatever we need, he’s going to make sure we get it," he said.

"I guess the logistics of that is well beyond my pay grade but just fantastic to have someone like that (on board)."

While financial security does not necessarily spell safety for the Force, it will add another level of intrigue to the upcoming arbitration between RugbyWA and the ARU, kicking off the week beginning July 31.

On Sunday Forrest said his support for the game in WA depended on it having a truly national footprint, not an eastern states only sport

"I, as a proud Western Australian, have their backs," he said


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