Reserves plan to help Force players
Reserves plan to help Force players

A new Western Force "reserves" side would be set up under a proposed and much needed third-tier Australian rugby competition.

The proposal by Rugby Union Players' Association chief executive Greg Harris is based on a varsity style under-23 competition of nine sides.

But it would not automatically mean the current RugbyWA Premier Grade University of WA club would be the home of the new side and it would not play in the RugbyWA competition.

Under the plan, the new club could be based at any of WA's universities prepared to help fund the side with RugbyWA and the Australian Rugby Union, who would all jointly hold the club licence.

It would be made up of fringe Super players and possibly players on scholarships, who would return to their own clubs at the end of the tournament.

Nine sides, three in Sydney and Brisbane and one each in Perth, Melbourne and Canberra, would have 25 contracted players and would play in the same time frame as the Super Rugby competition.

The Force need a third tier to attract players because the local competition is not as strong as those in NSW and Queensland competitions.

The Force, with other Super clubs, also had funding withdrawn for their academy by former ARU chief executive John O'Neill in favour of two Eastern States-based centres, leaving WA players with no local pathway.

New Zealand have a provincial championship, while South Africa have the Currie Cup and a strong university tournament.

Harris, a former Force chief executive who spent many months putting the plan together, said the tournament wouldn't lead to powerhouse university sides playing in State competitions.

He had put the proposal to the ARU board, but said it was still in its infancy and the ARU might have its own plans.

"At the end of the day, if anyone else has a better idea then I would be happy to take part in discussions," Harris said.

"There is nowhere for Force players not playing Super Rugby to go at present."

The West Australian

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