Western Force players past and present have reacted with anger and disbelief after the Australian Rugby Union announced they would be scrapping the West Australian side from Super Rugby for the 2018 season.
The ARU had been deciding whether to remove either the Melbourne Rebels or Force but, after a two-week arbitration with RugbyWA, the ARU said they had decided to "discontinue the Western Force Super Rugby license".
The Rugby Union Players Association issued a swift response, declaring the ARU's decision as the abandonment of the game's "national footprint".
"Today's is the darkest day in the history of Australian Rugby with the custodian of the game confirming their desire to end the tenure of the Western Force and abandoning the game's national footprint."
"The future of professional Rugby in Western Australia will now be the collateral damage of the decision making of the ARU and SANZAAR to expand Super Rugby to a convoluted and complicated 18 team structure against various advice and modelling received which explained the associated risks."
"Players, staff and their families at the Western Force have been put under unprecedented and, quite frankly, completely unreasonable duress throughout this ridiculous and destructive process."
Cowards— Heath R Tessmann (@heathtessmann) August 11, 2017
Former Force star Heath Tessman was quick to condemn the decision, alongside foundation player Nathan Sharpe, who also jumped on Twitter to voice his opinion.
The biggest mistake the ARU could have made - Time to clear the decks and start fresh.— Nathan Sharpe (@NathanSharpe5) August 11, 2017
Devastated— Jonathon Lance (@jonno_lance) August 11, 2017
The Force responded to the news on Friday afternoon, declaring they would explore whatever means possible to remain Super Rugby.
"RugbyWA remains committed to pursuing every possible means to ensure the Western Force remains a Super Rugby team in Perth," a Rugby WA media release read.
What a terrible decision! Again the ARU let's down Australian rugby, its fans and its players! Just disgraceful!— Cameron Shepherd (@Cam_Shepherd) August 11, 2017
See ya Bill, all the best....#takeclineaswell— Pekahou cowan (@Pekcowan) August 11, 2017
Players from across Australia and around the world have also reacted via Twitter, showing their support for friends and former teammates.
Hugely disappointed with how things have unfolded back home.. results of poor management..feeling for all the great people in WA..— luke morahan (@Ljmorahan) August 11, 2017
Not the best news to wake up to in the UK. I feel for my @westernforce brothers & the passionate supporters in the west..— Ben Tapuai (@benntaps) August 11, 2017
The ARU has promised not to forget abandon the game in Western Australia, saying the state still held an "important" place in Australian rugby.