Plenty still at stake for Wallabies

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

As the Wallabies move their focus from the All Blacks to the Springboks, the stakes of their next Rugby Championship clash, are beginning to truly crystallize.

The Bledisloe Cup has been conceded for another year, but Cheika said he was all too aware of the importance of making a stand against South Africa in Perth, their first trip west since the ARU moved to axe the Force from Super Rugby in 2018.

That September 9 match is set to be emotionally charged, amid the still-unfolding Super Rugby cull, with the decision from a Supreme Court appeal yet to be handed down.

Force fans had originally flouted a boycott of the Wallabies vs Springboks clash to send a message to the ARU’s hip pockets, but since then their views have changed to donning Western Force jerseys to the Test in a sign of solidarity for the players form Perth in the Wallabies side.

It’s a symbol Cheika  and his has encouraged, if it means they’re still throwing their fandom behind the national team.

Speaking after Saturday’s Bledisloe, Cheika sad an emphatic outing could claw back some positive sentiment in a tumultuous time for WA, and Australian, rugby.

“At the end of the day, it's a huge match for us, the game against South Africa in Perth for a number of reasons – one, because it's a game against South Africa which is going to be a real contest, they've been playing excellent rugby this year,” he said.

“And two, because it's very important for us to go over to Perth and play a big match.

“With everything that's been going on, we're very aware that we wanted to win so badly for Australian rugby tonight, not just for us, (but) or rugby over there (in Australia), give people a smile on their face around the game.

“It'll (the Super Rugby decision) be the elephant in the room as the game gets closer.

“We want to go over there and play the best rugby we can.

“So, supporters from Perth that come over there, we'll show how much we respect them and how much we want to play for them as well.”

The gap between the Super Rugby and club fandom this season has been a much-discussed one and captain Michael Hooper pointed to that again as a sign that rugby could claw its way back from this year's difficult times.

“I view rugby as such a great game, I'm a fan of the game rugby and then just to be on the field tonight, have a full stadium and I'm sure people at home watching that game on the edge of their seats right to the final minute, it is a brilliant game,” he said.

“It’s like no other in the world and it does go down to the wire, even last week, our last 30 minutes of the game was something to enjoy and put us back in perspective there.

“So, I'm a fan and I think it certainly has got a great future.”