Western Force to return to action in World Series Rugby

Andrew Forrest PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

Western Force will return to the field in under two months' time after billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest announced a series of invitational matches, dubbed World Series Rugby.

The Force will face several international sides as well as Super Rugby outfits the Crusaders and Rebels in seven separate matches from May through to August.

The announcement guarantees some rugby for the club's squad, who either opted not to pursue a future elsewhere in favour of staying in Perth or who were unable to find a new club as former Force stars Adam Coleman, Dane Haylett-Petty and Curtis Rona have done.

The seven matches will help prepare the Force for the National Rugby Championship, after Rugby WA revealed the club would replace Perth Spirit in Australia's third-tier professional competition.

"We have rebuilt the Western Force as we develop our tournament and we now have a wholly integrated community and high-performance club as the foundation of the future competition," Forrest said.

"We have serious ambitions for this great team and for rugby in our region and intend to see these ambitions through, starting today with the launch of World Series Rugby.

"We have already begun reinforcing grassroots rugby across Western Australia with a fun new RugbyRoos program encouraging kids aged 4 to 12 to take up this great game. Our new and dynamic series will continue this great work, bringing in a whole new support base for the game, inspiring young players and attracting important corporate interest.

"The focus for 2018 is to reintroduce and reinforce professional rugby in Western Australia for the benefits of our grassroots community, our players and our fans."

Forrest hopes to evolve the competition into a "high-calibre, international competition" that becomes the "community-building sport of Asia".

The invitational matches will also trial new initiatives to help make the game more player and spectator friendly.

Western Force great Matt Hodgson told ESPN recently of Forrest's energy and passion for rugby in Western Australia, and the businessmen has now come good on his word after first flagging plans for an "Indo-Pacific" rugby competition following the Force's demise last year.

"This series offers a strong future for rugby in Western Australia," Hodgson said. "The Western Force are a quality outfit that have attracted interest from some of the best teams in our region.

"These matches are going to be fast and exciting and will offer a new experience for rugby fans in WA and across the Asia Pacific region."

The Force kick-off World Series Rugby against Fiji on May 4 with their final game coming on August 17 against a team yet to be announced. The games against the Rebels and Crusaders will be played in June while Super Rugby pauses for the Test window.