Battle only between the white lines

By Pete Fairbairn, 05.07.17

As the Melbourne Rebels and Western Force prepare to meet in Perth on Friday evening, leaders from both teams have joined forces to address the uncertainty clouding both team’s futures in Super Rugby.

Western Force legend and RUPA Board Member Matt Hodgson said his side have no intention of the match being an “us against them” battle in any aspect other than what happens on the field.

“We’ve put in a lot of hard work over the June break and we’re really looking forward to ripping in on Friday night to do the Sea of Blue proud against the Rebels,” Hodgson said.

“We really want to take the points, but we know that whoever wins takes bragging rights only and that this game won’t decide if either team still has a future in the competition. I’m very grateful that the media this week has focused on the game itself and not the ARU’s attempts to cut a team.

“All players remain united in our belief that the best interests of Rugby in Australia are best served by the retention of five teams and maintaining our national footprint with both Western Australia and Victoria.”

Rebels centre Tom English, also a RUPA Board member, echoed Hodgson’s sentiments.

“We can’t wait to get back on the field this Friday night and finish the season as strongly as we possibly can. That 80 minutes is our time to escape the ongoing uncertainty and stress that this dragged-out process has created.

“All of us at the Rebels have a great deal of empathy for what the Force players have been put through this season, having experienced it ourselves and I’m sure we’ll all catch up post-game to support each other.

“I’d like to thank all players from around the country for their solidarity in these hard times. The welfare of all affected players and staff is paramount, and we’ve all really appreciated your phone calls and support. We will continue to prepare and play as best as we possibly can while our futures are decided at a Boardroom level.”

Pete Fairbairn
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