The inevitable happened at the weekend, it was announced that Emirates Western Force Captain David Pocock was leaving for the Canberra University Brumbies. This was another major body blow for Force fans and the rugby club as a whole, but one that was expected.
At the start of the season the club was rocked by the departure of key playmaker Willie Ripia, of that there was no doubt. The decision for him to leave was the right one, but the timing was not good for the club. Injury to James Stannard meant that this loss became all the more evident as the season went on, Ben Seymour showing glimpses of potential, but also inexperience, David Harvey filled the role adequately but also predictably.
The powers that be at the club had a mutual agreement with the coach Richard Graham that either party could sever their ties at the end of this season. Graham, when offered a role with the then Super Rugby Champions, the Queensland Reds opted to take up that option. A move that very few would begrudge him, as they say a dream appointment.
Rugby was always a gentleman’s game, and Graham was keen to continue to carry on until the end of the season, an offer that the board accepted, as they obviously felt that he had the professional integrity to continue to do the best job he could with the club.
A backflip soon followed, reportedly as a result of the two players on the board, Nathan Sharpe and David Pocock. This raised a very serious issue, as to why two players were actually holding board positions when employed by the club, and who actually holds the power at the Emirates Western Force.
The club have had plenty of time in which to sound out a new coach for next season, yet have failed miserably and questions now have to be asked by members fans and the rugby community at large.
It is understood that they foolishly made public that Michael Chieka was their preferred option, which in turn has meant that those who were deemed second or third choice have their noses out of joint, and are loathe to take up the position. One candidate who withdrew from the race was far from impressed with the brief dealings he had with the board, which again speaks volumes.
It would appear that there is not enough rugby know-how on the board and questions need to be raised as to whether they are up to the task of running a Super Rugby franchise. The last six months have been badly managed and have tarnished the club drastically. The club desperately needs to be answering questions as to what is going, Rugby in WA needs some transparency and some honesty or the game and ultimately the Emirates Western Force face bigger problems on the horizon, like a drop in members and sponsors withdrawing, as is already being mooted. Which with the Pirates about to land in Perth for the NRL is a very dangerous position to be in.