Dear Australian Rugby Union,
I am a lover of sport.
I follow with passion the Tigers in AFL, Spurs in EPL and have more than a passing interest in the Twins in MLB.
But my true sporting passion is for rugby, and the Western Force.
For twelve years, we in the west have supported you. In fact, it was probably even before that.
I remember, with such anticipation, the day it was announced that you would finally play a test match here in the west. The day that the game I’ve grown up loving, would finally be brought to my doorstep. The day that the game took the very first steps in becoming truly national.
The Wallabies truly became Australia's team, bringing the game across the Nullarbor to those of us who had been discarded or ignored for so long.
It was with equal elation that you announced, way back in 2005, that you felt Western Australia had grown enough to have its own team in what was, at the time, the premier rugby competition in the world.
The Force has been part of me since that day. I have been a paid up member since the Force was born. I have attended every single game I could (and sometimes - it was bloody cold).
The club have given me and others moments of unbridled joy. From seeing Scott Fava score the clubs first ever try, to Cam Shepard slot the game winning goal after the siren against the Hurricanes, to watching Hodgo slot the penalty against the Waratahs.
You have helped us create such wonderful memories. And now? Now you’re taking those memories away, and treating us like second-class citizens.
I know this will probably fall upon deaf ears – sounds that are no doubt silenced by the cries of SANZAAR. But, I implore you to look at the full picture, to look at what we as a state have accomplished, and the faith we have in what we will accomplish in the future.
I think part of the problem is that you and the rest of the Eastern States don’t quite understand. You don’t understand the passion. You don’t understand the desire to have a team, and you don’t understand just what it means to us to be part of the competition.
I have read some pundits from the East Coast state that it means nothing, that we don’t get crowds. But consider this - we have the fourth largest population in Australia, and yet we are able to attract close-to-equivalent attendances at home games as those with larger ones. And this happens with games that are regularly outside of “family-friendly” timeslots.
Sure, the Waratahs and Reds will now be able to pilfer some of our work over the past decade (no doubt the reason they have voted to drop a team), but surely internal competition can only help others and the game itself to grow stronger.
We finally have a financial backer, and the state government is right behind us.
The broadcast deal goes to 2020. Allow us to stay and we will show you what it means to be a West Australian Rugby Supporter.
The Force is more than just a Rugby Club. It is a way to bring people together, to enjoy the game with family and friends. It allows us to express just what being a West Australian is - the mate-ship, comradery and support. All these things are quintessential to a community's existence. Without the Force, these traits among the Rugby family will begin to diminish.
But should you continue on your present course, you will never know the beauty of having us with you. And, if the NRL comes to the party out here, then the West may be lost forever.
A loyal Force Fan.