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Western Force rugby union brand to return in 2018
A Western Force rugby union team could be back in action by as early as April next year after RugbyWA was handed back the franchise's licence and intellectual property.
RugbyWA came out of voluntary administration today after Rugby Australia waived a legal debt of more than $1 million.
The debt related to legal costs of about $1.7 million incurred by Rugby Australia as RugbyWA battled to save the Western Force Super Rugby licence through arbitration and then a Supreme Court appeal.
RugbyWA entered into voluntary administration last month, saying the axing of the Force meant it simply didn't have the revenue stream to pay back Rugby Australia's legal costs.
However, Rugby Australia has now forgiven that debt after billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest promised to pump more than $2 million into grassroots and women's rugby in Western Australia.
Lavan Legal, who represented the Force during their battles with Rugby Australia, has waived a debt of almost $800,000 while RugbyWA still owes the Western Australia Government $1.14 million - a debt it has agreed to put on hold for two years.
As part of RugbyWA's relaunch, the Future Force Academy will be resurrected to help convert amateur athletes to professional players, and it will be open to women for the first time.
RugbyWA will fund three professional women players in 2018, with that number to expand in the future.
Importantly, RugbyWA has been handed back complete control of the Force and all its intellectual property.
After the Force's axing, Forrest unveiled an ambitious plan to launch the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship - featuring the Force and five other teams.
However, Rugby Australia is yet to endorse the new competition - with Forrest's team to meet Rugby Australia officials in Sydney next Tuesday for further negotiations.
The Force will be back in action next year against some invitational sides and will then compete in the National Rugby Championship in 2018, replacing the Perth Spirit.
17th November 2017 - WESTERN FORCE LEGAL LOSS LEADS RUGBYWA TO ENTER VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION
15th November 2017 - RUGBY AUSTRALIA MADE DECISION TO AXE WESTERN FORCE MONTHS BEFORE FINANCES EXAMINED
28th October 2017 - AUSTRALIAN RUGBY UNION REBRANDS AS RUGBY AUSTRALIA
5th September 2017 - WESTERN FORCE FAILS IN COURT APPEAL OVER SUPER RUGBY AXING
20th June 2017 - BILL PULVER TO REMAIN AT ARU AS SUPER RUGBY TEAM STILL FACES AXE
28th March 2017 - ARU REJECTS ROY MORGAN FINDINGS ON RUGBY PARTICIPATION
27th March 2017 - WESTERN FORCE REJECTS CLAIMS OF AXING FROM SUPER RUGBY
8th November 2016 - ARU TO REVIEW STRATEGIC PLAN AFTER MEETING WITH RUGBY STAKEHOLDERS
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