Twiggy Forrest to launch and fund junior rugby development program
Billionaire Andrew Forrest has unveiled plans to launch a junior rugby development program initially in Western Australia and eventually across Australia.
Forrest is set to launch a six team Indo Pacific Rugby Championship next year featuring the Western Force and will dip into his deep pockets again to fund the RugbyRoos initiative.
The program will teach kids aged 4-12 the fundamental skills of rugby at clinics to be run by contracted WA Rugby players.
Forrest said all contracted players will be obligated to devote 350 hours of their personal time each year to community programs like RugbyRoos.
“Rugby starts at the gras roots, and finishes with elite. Not the other way around,” Forrest said.
“Rugby has been struggling a bit in the eastern states at a community level. The RugbyRoos is a great way to build the community spirit through rugby in the eastern states.
“RugbyRoos is a long-term vision.”
Forrest has already resurrected the Future Force Foundation, and he’s committed funds to women’s rugby as well.
The mining magnate is currently in deep discussions with new ARU boss Raelene Castle about his Indo Pacific tournament, with negotiations stalling on the issue of Wallabies eligibility.
However Forrest, who already has the support of Rugby Asia and World Rugby, said he will continue with the competition with or without the approval of Rugby Australia.
“We’ll either get Rugby Australia’s approval, or we won’t. But either way we’re going to roll, and we’ll be playing internationally,” Forrest said.
“This is a tournament that is waiting to happen, and will be fantastic for Australia.
“We’ve had something like 250 enquiries from elite players around the world.
“We’ve had endorsement from Rugby Asia. We know that World Rugby is completely on side.
“I think we get closer every day (with getting Rugby Australia’s tick).
“I think if you have a legitimate love for the game and a legitimate interest in what’s best for the players, you’ll back the new tournament.”
Its understood the WA Rugby has already contracted players to play for the Perth Spirit in this year’s National Rugby Championship.