Tearful captain Matt Hodgson said Sunday was a dark day for Australian rugby union and “we live each day like it’s our last” with Western Force in danger of being one of three teams axed from Super Rugby.
Governing body SANZAAR on Sunday announced that only 15 franchises will compete in the competition from next season.
An Australian side and two South African clubs will lose their spots after the decision was made to go back to the previous format.
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) will on Monday confirm which team will be cut, and the Force are under threat.
Dave Wessels’ Force side beat Southern Kings – who could also lose their place – 46-41 on an emotional afternoon at nib Stadium on Sunday and SANZAAR made their announcement soon after.
Sea of Blue flooding the pitch! pic.twitter.com/9pzA7B7h73
— Western Force (@westernforce) April 9, 2017
Long-serving skipper Hodgson said the decision will have an impact on the game throughout his country regardless of which team is removed.
“My life is here,” Hodgson said. “It [the Force] gave me my opportunity – I probably wouldn’t have played Super Rugby if the Force didn’t turn up.
“I’m lucky enough to have 130-odd caps here and that’s allowed me to set up my life here.
“We have spoken about it just then, in the sheds. But we were too busy just enjoying the win and celebrating it with our fans, because that’s probably the most important thing for us at the moment.
“We will live each days like it’s our last.”
He added: “I go back to when I first came back, doing rugby clinics for young kids. Now I’m playing alongside them and they don’t have that opportunity if we’re gone.
“It’s going to be disappointing that they’re either going to go east coast [of Australia] or overseas earlier, or pick up another code and I think that’s the worst thing.
“Like Dave [Wessels] said, if it’s not us [who are axed], we won’t be celebrating, because it’s bad for Australian rugby full stop. We call rugby the global game and if we can’t even get it throughout Australia it becomes frustrating.
“I’ve been quite vocal on it and I know the boys love playing here and want rugby to be successful here and I think we are seeing what we did 10 years ago come through now.
“You’ve got Ross [Haylett-Petty], Dane [Haylett-Petty], Kane Koteka, Richard Hardwick all playing for Western Force and in the Wallabies squads as well, so you think, if the Western Force weren’t around do they get an opportunity? Or do they pick up a different code? Or do they go overseas?
“So it’s a bad sign for Australia rugby full stop.”
Hodgson was in tears as he explained the impact the decision will have on children in the Perth area, making his feelings about SANZAAR firmly clear.
“Being a parent myself, you don’t know where to put your kid. Do I put him in rugby, or do I put him to stay in Western Australia to play AFL?” he said.
“I think the way it’s been done is the most important thing. It’s dragged on, I’ve done four press conferences this week and had one rugby question. That’s annoying.
“For kids to turn up here it’s great, but now they don’t know if Western Force is going to be the future.”
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