Super 15 must go to West Sydney




Wallabies great Brett Papworth says that he believes the survival of rugby union in Australia is dependant on the Western Sydney Rams being accepted as the 15th team in the expanded Super Rugby competition in 2011.

As chairman of the Rams’ steering committee, Papworth has mounted a case for a second team in Sydney when his prospective venture formally lodged their expression of interest at being granted the 15th Super Rugby licence in the to be formed Super 15.

With an AFL team all but certain to be located in Sydney’s west from 2012 and the possibility of an A-League team in the area up and running within 12 months, Papworth said it was imperative that rugby – and also rugby league for that matter – also shored up some of the football market.

“It is a massive part of Australia and in terms of the rugby codes, it is the heartland,” Papworth told AAP.

“You can’t get away from this being the heartland.

“Look 20 years down the track, the north-west corridor of Sydney, the south-west corridor, it is a massive growth area. Can you imagine in 20 years the population in western Sydney and there is no rugby team? It makes no sense to us.

“The future of rugby is dependant on rugby winning the battle for the talented 13 to 15-year-old kids.

“You see, if they choose to play another game, then rugby (in Australia) is finished. Rugby league’s finished.

“So you’ve got to be in the contest. Western Sydney’s never been in it. The ARU has never really invested heavily.

“We would like to think this is a great investment in the future of the game and the more talented Kurtley Beales or Israel Folaus that come out of west of Sydney … rugby needs to be an option for them.”

The Rams’ biggest competition for the Super 15 licence appears to be in Victoria who have a Rugby Union and a Soccer team interested in bidding but Papworth argued that the Melbourne Storm were a perfect case study of the most successful team in the NRL still costing the league and major stakeholders News Limited millions of dollars.

“Going to Melbourne and being national, be careful what you wish for,” he said.

“Western Sydney, we’ve got it captured. They are here. The players are here. The investment needs to be made here.

“Before you start going national or global, get your heartland in order.”

Papworth admitted that the Rams’ interest was “in many ways, it’s an unashamedly parochial western Sydney bid” but predicted that the Rams might well draw bigger crowds than the NSW Waratahs do at the Sydney Football Stadium.

“It will require some serious marketing on our part, but I’m not sure that western Sydney (people) see the Waratahs as their team,” Papworth said.

“The population here in the west don’t necessarily duck out to the SFS on a Friday night to support the Waratahs.

“I think it is seen as an eastern suburbs, north shore private school-type set-up.

“I know for a fact Waratahs members are furious about them playing games at ANZ Stadium, so that gives you an idea of where they come from.

“I think the west would embrace a team that is there for them.”

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