The Western Force’s U19s and U16s squads were presented with their jerseys on Friday night, with partners who’ve supported the pathways competitions on hand at the official ceremony at Rendezvous Hotel Perth Scarborough.
In a collaborative partnership with RugbyWA, the Western Force U19s and U16s will compete in five-team Super Rugby competitions, which start on Saturday 30 September with games against the Melbourne Rebels at Revo Fitness Stadium in Claremont.
Players, Rugby WA and Force officials and partners were present for the event where U19s head coach Dylan Parsons and U16s head coach Denis Skillen handed out jerseys to the selected players from the squads announced last week.
The jersey presentation was also an opportunity to thank partners whose support has enabled the pathways programmes to come to life in 2023, offering invaluable opportunities to the next generation of WA rugby talent, both players and coaches, to achieve their dreams.
Fortescue will adorn the front of the jersey, building on their Major Partnership of the Force’s Performance teams and Academy Program. Joining them will be fellow long-term club partners Goodyear and CD Dodd.
Regional Rugby Partner AFGRI Equipment has levelled up its support of the Force along with the club’s Official Recruitment Partner, Collar Group.
Joining these existing sponsors are SLW Transport, a long-term supporter of the Force’s pathway program, Elan, a company that transforms waste tyres into sustainable raw materials with no waste or by-products and new partner Rendezvous Scarborough, who sponsored the jersey presentation at their iconic beachfront hotel.
Fortescue Director of Communities, Environment & Government Warren Fish said: “As a longstanding partner of the Western Force, Fortescue is committed to helping to build a talent pool of players and provide a pathway to the Super Rugby Pacific team encouraging the next generation of high achieving players here in WA.
“Fortescue is a proud Western Australian company, with a history that is deeply connected to the people and communities here in WA. Our partnership with Western Force reflects that pride and a commitment to ensuring our home-grown team has the support it needs to capitalise on the opportunities ahead.”
Goodyear Vice President of Sales and Marketing John Black said: “Goodyear are excited to be part of the future of the Western Force as well as the present, we want to be part of the drive to give homegrown talent an opportunity to become a Force player of the future.
“If we can increase the opportunities for local players then naturally it will see an increase in participation of the game at a local level which will bring long term benefits to the Force and the Wallabies.”
AFGRI General Manager: Sales and Marketing Jacques Coetzee said: "AFGRI Equipment is proud to support the Western Force U16s and U19s teams. The Western Force's values and objectives align with ours, driving our decision to partner with them. Their commitment to the land resonates deeply with our mission in agriculture, making this partnership a natural fit.
“Nurturing the future of our sport begins at the grassroots level, and these young athletes are the future stars of rugby. By investing in their development, we aim to contribute to the sport's growth and bring more regional communities into the rugby fold."
CD Dodd Director Chris Dodd said: "Originating from Perth and standing strong as a family-owned enterprise, our commitment has always been to foster local talent and ambition. The Western Force U16s and U19s teams epitomize the potential and dedication we value. Aligning with them is an extension of our dedication to Perth's growth and prosperity.
"Our partnership with the Force youth teams signifies more than just sponsorship; it embodies our aspiration to give back to the community that has nurtured us. Our objective is twofold: to facilitate opportunities for these promising athletes and to underscore our enduring commitment to community development and progress."
SLW Directors and Owners Shane and Leanne Wilcox said: “We believe our future is in our youth, so it is important to build a strong foundation. It is from there we build culture, belief and a team to enter any arena and win.
“The pleasure will be to see these young people play at a high level, achieve and win.”
Collar CEO and Founder Ephram Stephenson said: “Being involved in grassroots sports is something I am personally very passionate about and having the opportunity to support the new Western Force U16s and U19s teams provides Collar the opportunity to provide not just funding for the teams but also provide key career advice when required to the teams as to what they can also achieve outside of rugby.
“We offer our support to help Western Force teams dominate rugby in Australia.”
Elan Managing Director Ian Bellinge said: “The development of young people, not just the Super Rugby Pacific team, is a focus and major appeal to Elan, as it involves creating goals and pathways for the next generation.
“The Force created a new rugby competition when Super Rugby let them go – it shows tenacity and a willingness to adapt for their players and members. Turning a weakness into an opportunity is something Elan is very familiar with - overall, what the Western Force stands for aligns perfectly with our core values and forms the ideal basis for a meaningful partnership.”
Rendezvous Perth Scarborough General Manager Rhys Challenger said: “Grassroots sports sits at the heart of Aussie communities and the Rendezvous team is incredibly proud of the strong connections we’ve forged with local sporting teams over the years we’ve been operating.”
“We see our partnership with the Western Force and their wonderful pathway program, as a meeting of two great WA organisations, sporting similar core values, and we’re looking forward to getting out there and supporting these talented young athletes this season.”
Western Force Business Development Manager Huw Lock said the support provided by the range of sponsors aids the Force’s aspirations in developing pathways for aspiring WA talent.
“We acknowledge and appreciate our loyal sponsors support in this exciting new era for pathway rugby in WA,” Lock said. “We have done a lot of work on our strategic intent for the future and are fortunate to have an aligned group of sponsors striving to be the best both on and off the field.”