It’s an announcement that’s been months in the making, but the Western Force have finally revealed their final opposition of the season.
On August 9th, the evening before the Bledisloe Cup clash between the Wallabies and the All Blacks, the Western Force will take on a composite team that brings together South African and Malaysian players.
Under the guise of the Malaysia Valke, Currie Cup First Division team the Falcons will travel to Western Australia to try to hand the Force their first defeat of 2019.
The Falcons were beaten semi-finalists in 2018’s First Division competition (which is actually the second tier of the competition). Hopefully the addition of Malasia’s top players will add an extra edge to the South African side.
As a whole, it’s been a somewhat less than competitive first season of Global Rapid Rugby – at least in the Force’s case.
The season kicked off with a 10-point victory over a Word XV side coached by Robbie Deans and was followed by Asia and Pacific Showcase Series. The Force have won all nine of theirs matched played (plus a pair of ‘unofficial’ matches Japan) and only occasionally have they been pushed by their opponents to really enter top gear, with their matches against Fijian Latui probably being the highlight of the bunch.
From the support side of things, a mid-season rark up from Rugby WA Chairman John Edwards seems to have galvanised the Western Australia supporters to continue to turn out in good numbers. 13,000 were in attendance for the final game of the Pacific Showcase, whilst fewer than 8,000 showed up for the Force’s home match against the South China Tigers – the first game of the Asia Showcase.
The opposition in this year’s iteration of Rapid Rugby have at times underwhelmed – but there’s still reason to believe that we could see the competition emerge as a genuine second-tier to Super Rugby. The Pacific sides showed excellent promise and there’s obviously plenty of room for growth in Asia – we just need to see some more buy in from the regions.
Next year we could see a full round-robin take place – which was originally the plan for 2019 before the lack of teams evidently became an issue. Ideally a team or two out of Japan would join the competition and we could potentially see sides from New Zealand take part too.
We’re yet to see any players get selected from this year’s Western Force side in the Wallabies, but could it happen in the future? Michael Cheika unpacks his first Wallabies squad of the year:
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