Save The Force: The Power and the Passion

As Bob Dylan told us, The Times They Are A-Changin’.
But it is a Midnight Oil anthem – The Power and the Passion – which is perhaps more apt in summing up the latest developments in the Super Rugby circus.
While the ARU board appears to be losing its grip on the power, the passion of rugby supporters in WA is hopefully about to come into play.
Consider the following quote from Wynne Gray on the Fox Sports website after the Rebels-Brumbies game on Saturday: “The 7,574 crowd in Melbourne to see their team play the conference leaders was no great endorsement either for rugby in Victoria.”
That’s right. With the future of their Super Rugby team on the line, only 7,574 Rebels fans bothered to turn up to watch their team play the team at the top of the Australian conference.
That, of course, sets up a great opportunity for Force fans to show the ARU on Saturday which of the two teams facing the Super Rugby axe – the Rebels or the Force – has the passion on its side. And as this column stated last week, nothing will send that passion message louder and clearer to ARU headquarters than a packed house at nib Stadium to cheer on the Force against one of the Super Rugby favourites, the high-flying Chiefs.
Such a message should be all the more compelling given the ARU has identified “fan engagement” as a key criteria in its decision-making process. So let’s show them passion and fan engagement, Sea of Blue style.
While we are on the topic of the criteria, consider for a moment the other catch-phrases being used by the ARU in assessing what must rate as one of the most important decisions in Australian rugby history – “long-term financial sustainability” and “prospects for growth”.
From all accounts, the reported success of the Own the Force campaign – particularly with its so-called Big Four backers – is giving the Force an edge in the financial sustainability stakes. And the prospects for growth in rugby in WA goes without saying. And by any objective assessment of those three catch-phrases, how on earth did the ARU decide to give the Brumbies the all clear?
On the topic of the so-called Big Four, given their past ARU experience, you can’t help but wonder whether their well-timed media assault is actually a pre-emptive strike at the ARU? An early shot across the bow perhaps.
If it is, remember you read it here first. After all, even a broken watch is right twice a day.