There is no doubt WA Rugby fans are a loyal bunch. For seven years we have stuck by the Force through good and bad. Branded as some of the best supporters in the Super 15 competition we show up every week with the hope that we’ll see some improvements. Supporters of other Australian teams get excited when their teams win, we get excited when we come close to winning. Winning a game provides a new level of excitement for Force fans.
Hearing of David Pocock’s decision and reading his open letter to the WA rugby supporters, I can understand his decision to leave and his reasons as to why but I still can’t help but feel like it is a big kick in the guts for us as Force fans.
I am a strong believer that a team is bigger than one person but every team needs a leader. David Pocock was ours. Arguably the best flanker in the world, Wallaby captain and Western Force captain, Poey represented that little glimmer of hope that our fortunes had the potential to change come the new year and we could finally enjoy the on field results that we have been waiting so long for. Now that Poey’s gone and with still no coach after 17 odd weeks it is getting harder and harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
No matter what the sport, for every team that under performs, with the beginning of a new season there is hope that the changes made during the off season will result in success and we as supporters will finally have something to cheer about. However, after the year we’ve had, it is hard for us to get excited. Losing Willie Ripia, our international marquee player for allegedly stealing from his own team mates was the first crack. Our coach Richard Graham announced he was leaving and subsequently stood down, less than average game performances, club legend Nathan Sharpe retiring, still no coach and now Pocock leaving; 2012 has not been a good year for the club. I don’t think anyone – players, coaches, officials or supporters would disagree that winning only 3 out of 16 games is a far from successful season.
Having said all of the above I can respect David’s decision and the way he has handled himself during this time. A true professional. As supporters, we must remember that these guys are professional sportsmen, playing rugby and playing good rugby is their livelihood. If I were in David’s shoes would I have done the same thing? The truth is, I probably would.
Still, as a Force member it is hard to accept this and feel hopeful that other big name players will want to call Perth home. For various reasons we seem to have a history of losing our big name players, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Digby Ioane, David Smith and James O’Connor to name a few. The loss of our players and the continual poor performance of the club is incredibly frustrating. At some point you can’t help but question the leadership and some of the decisions that are made from the club. When reading David’s letter it felt almost as if he had given up on the club and I can only hope this doesn’t reflect the thoughts of other Western Force players.
We have a good team with a lot of potential. We have some great players and it is in these players that we will continue to rely on and throw our support behind. We have a very talented forward pack with a number of test caps between them and our crowd favourites – Wykes, Sheehan, Sidey and of course the ‘Honey Badger’ Nick Cummins continue to show their faith in the club.
David’s contribution to rugby and the wider community in WA has been outstanding. Being awarded the 2012 Young Western Australian of the Year is testament to that. I think I speak for all Force fans when I say David will always be welcome in Western Australia, we just wish he was staying in the blue jersey!
As a Force fan and member, I wish David all the best for the future. I hope he continues to experience success as captain of the Wallabies and that he fulfills is career aspirations at his new home in Canberra with the Brumbies.
Come next year, I, along with many others I’m sure, will still be in the ‘Sea of Blue’ cheering loudly for my team.
Guest post by Sarah Campbell. Follow Sarah on Twitter.