Wallabies eligibility ticked off as Force unveil World Series rules

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Players featuring for the Western Force will officially be eligible for Wallabies duty, with their new World Series kicking off on Friday.

There had been reports a deal between Rugby Australia and Rugby WA was close to being struck, with Force head of elite performance Matt Hodgson confirming the development on Tuesday.

"That was one criteria we wanted to tick off quite quickly," he said.

"Because these Force players are playing in their local clubs, they're playing for the Western Force and also playing for the Western Force in the NRC tournament so they are eligible and there are many players that can put their hands up for that selection during the June Test series and the end of year Spring Tours and hopefully, our goal is to get some players in that World Cup squad."

It is unclear what form the Force's 2019 competition will look like, with Andrew Forrest's Indo Pacific Rugby Championship still in the pipeline, but Hodgson said their focus was on the immediate challenges facing them.

"We're focused solely on this year at the moment," he said.

"Our big goal is to get as many people to watch the game on Friday night and we'll continue to work with World rugby and Rugby Australia moving forward.

"Getting 2018 off the road is a big thing for us and to get players eligible for Wallabies is pretty exciting."

Hodgson also announced some new rules to be used in the World Series, initiatives including a seven-pint 'Power Try' and set piece time limits.

Teams will be able to score a seven-point 'Power Try' if they score from a play starting from their own 22 with continuous possession.

Goal posts will be lit up during the match to keep fans informed as to whether the seven-point play is on the cards, with nine points on offer in total with successful conversions.

The power try is yet to get the green light from World Rugby but officials are optimistic that hurdle will be cleared by Friday night's match.

Matt Hodgson had a special farewell in Perth. Photo; Getty ImagesSpeed in set piece is another focus, with lineouts throwers no longer needing to wait for their opponents or referees to be ready to throw the ball in, while scrums will be set to a one-minute limit a swell.

Teams will also be allowed 12 substitutions in a match, meaning players can be replaced and return to the field. 

Hodgson said he hoped it broke a tend of 'robotic' rugby being seen across the world.

"Today, you watch the game, people are almost in robot mode," he said.

"They get stuck in their 22, set piece, one hit up pass it, the five-eighth or the fullback kicks it out and even defence now is set for that, knowing teams aren't going to run.

"Now, we are manipulating both the attack and the defence so coaches are going to have to be switched on for the game and I think they're going to have  to adapt during the game, which is why they're coaches."

"They want to see these changes and I think also the rolling subs, the way they use that is going to be pretty exciting."

The Force play the Fiji Warriors at nib Stadium in Perth on Friday night, kicking off at 6:30pm local, 8:30pm AEST.