Western Force: Scottish Rugby seeks new Australian link as franchise is axed

By Jamie LyallBBC Scotland
Lewis Carmichael
Edinburgh lock Lewis Carmichael, left, spent three months on loan at Western Force last season

Scottish Rugby is seeking a new performance partnership in Australia after the demise of Western Force.

The Perth-based franchise has been culled by the Australian Rugby Union as part of reductions to Super Rugby.

The Force's discontinuation will end the performance link between the franchise and Scottish Rugby.

The union, which had been aware of the threat facing the Force, now aims to align itself with one of Australia's four remaining franchises.

The ARU said on Fridayexternal-link the decision to axe the Force had been "guided primarily by financial outcomes", adding that "Australian Rugby can no longer sustain five franchises".

Super Rugby, which comprises sides from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and Japan, is being reduced from 18 to 15 teams for the 2018 season by governing body Sanzaar, with the South African Cheetahs and Southern Kings joining an expanded Pro14, while the Force will cease to exist.

Scottish Rugby's relationship with the Australian franchise is part of its revamped Exiles programme, which aims to target and develop Scottish-qualified players elsewhere in the UK and overseas.

Edinburgh lock Lewis Carmichael was loaned to the Force during the 2017 Super Rugby season, with the 22-year-old making eight appearances.

Discussions will now take place between Scottish Rugby and Australian representatives as the union bids to establish a relationship with one of the four remaining teams - the Rebels, Waratahs, Brumbies or Reds.

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