Rugby’s billionaire is ‘force’ of nature game needs
The stunning prospect of the Western Force joining rugby's "Crisis Comp" is proof of how overdue it is for Rugby Australia to work with mining billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest.
A key call within the cohort of 10 former Wallabies' captains pushing for change is bringing Forrest's acumen inside the tent after three years on the outer.
Without such a force of nature behind them, the Perth-based side might have disappeared when they were chopped from Super Rugby by RA amid anger and disagreement in 2017.
Instead, the Force stand proudly as 2019's National Rugby Championship winners and at the heart of Forrest's Global Rapid Rugby plan, which would have embraced teams in China, Malaysia, Samoa and Fiji from March-to-May but for the health crisis.
"It has shocked me for some time why you wouldn't bring someone like him into rugby's inner circle," Force coach Tim Sampson said.
"You can't ignore someone like Andrew, and it's not just his capability around finance.
"His passion to support the Force, and Australian rugby, is as impressive and I include his wife, Nicola, too for her positivity towards the game.
"He has vision as well as the drive to be successful and innovate, so it's great to hear that all he has done to keep the Force going may mean a fantastic chance to get on the field against Super Rugby sides when rugby comes back in early July.
"He's in it for the long haul and rugby is blessed to have him."
Forrest and his wife gave away $520 million this month to their charitable Minderoo Foundation to assist in buying health equipment to fight coronavirus as well as bushfire relief.
The Force would play beside the Reds, Waratahs, Brumbies and Rebels, under one domestic series model, because border restrictions rule out overseas sides.
RA's poor finances, with a $9.4 million loss on the 2019 books, is the code's underlying problem so savvy financial men like Forrest and new RA board member Peter Wiggs, with his success at rebuilding companies, are key players.
Australia's former national director of coaching Dick Marks goes as far as saying Forrest "is the key to uniting and repairing the game with his resources and acumen".
Western Australia's easing of restrictions meant nine Force players could train with a fitness coach, whereas just two players can gather in Queensland or NSW.
Originally published as Rugby's billionaire is 'force' of nature game needs