LIVE

    Force warrior Hodgson to retire

    2017-06-16 10:30

    Perth - Western Force captain Matt Hodgson, the heart and soul of the endangered Super Rugby franchise, will retire at the end of the season but continue the fight to keep the game alive in the far-flung Australian state.

    The 35-year-old Sydney-born loose forward will hang up his boots after completing a 12th season with Perth-based Force, having made his debut in their first Super Rugby match against the Brumbies in 2006.

    Capped 11 times by the Wallabies, Hodgson spurned lucrative offers to play overseas and stayed loyal to Western Australia, so he was devastated when the Australian Rugby Union announced in April that the Force could be axed from the competition.

    The ARU has agreed to cut either the Force or the Melbourne Rebels for next season as Super Rugby contracts from 18 to 15 teams. South Africa will announce which two teams they will cut on July 7.

    The Dave Wessels-coached Force have battled to four wins from 13 games with two rounds left this season, still better than the records of the Rebels (1-1-11) and the Reds (3-0-10), who were never considered for the cull.

    But the uncertainty has taken a heavy toll on the Force players and staff.

    "It's been probably the toughest year in rugby I've dealt with," Hodgson told reporters at a news conference in Perth on Friday.

    "The body is right and I could play on physically but mentally with the off-field it's been a big drain. A lot of the off-field stuff has overshadowed what we are doing on field.

    "It's probably taken a bit of love and passion out of the game and why you play the game.

    "At the moment I get more enjoyment out of going to help junior rugby, watching my six-year-old run around.

    "I'm glad that I've been here this year to put up the fight and hopefully we can keep the fight going."

    An inspirational skipper, Hodgson signed a one-year deal with the Force last year with a view to moving into coaching but the team's disbandment would strike a body-blow for rugby in a state where Australian Rules is the dominant football code.

    "Being a parent myself, you don't know where to put your kid now," Hodgson said at a media conference in April, struggling to hold back tears.

    "Do I put him in rugby or stay in Western Australia playing AFL (Australian Football League)?

    "It's frustrating and I think the way it's been done is probably the most annoying thing."

    What To Read Next

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk
    Most Read

    Fixtures

    Friday, 30 June 2017
    • Sharks v Bulls, Growthpoint Kings Park 19:00
    Saturday, 01 July 2017
    • Jaguares v Kings, Estadio Jose Amalfitani 01:05
    • Cheetahs v Stormers, Toyota Stadium 15:05
    • Lions v Sunwolves, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 07 July 2017
    • Reds v Brumbies, Suncorp Stadium 11:45
    • Force v Rebels, nib Stadium 13:55

    Results

    09 June 2017
    03 June 2017
    02 June 2017
    28 May 2017
    27 May 2017
    26 May 2017
    21 May 2017
    20 May 2017
    19 May 2017
    13 May 2017
    12 May 2017
    06 May 2017
    05 May 2017
    30 April 2017
    29 April 2017
    28 April 2017
    22 April 2017
    21 April 2017
    15 April 2017
    14 April 2017
    09 April 2017
    08 April 2017
    07 April 2017
    02 April 2017
    01 April 2017
    31 March 2017
    25 March 2017
    24 March 2017
    18 March 2017
    17 March 2017
    11 March 2017
    10 March 2017
    04 March 2017
    03 March 2017
    02 March 2017
    25 February 2017
    24 February 2017
    23 February 2017

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    SA Rugby need to cut two Super Rugby teams for next year's tournament. Help them out!

    The ultimate Super Rugby quiz!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.