Wessels impressed by World Series Rugby

Justin Chadwick

Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels predicts the Western Force are on the cusp of something special, and he hopes World Series Rugby will help new people fall in love with the game.

The Rebels experienced the breakaway WSR first-hand on Saturday night when they beat the Force 28-12 at a wet and windy nib Stadium.

The night was a special moment for Wessels, who coached the Force last year but was temporarily left out of work when the franchise was axed by Rugby Australia.

Wessels and a host of the Force's best players jumped ship to the Rebels, who currently sit second in the Australian Super Rugby conference with a 7-6 record.

WSR will feature seven exhibition games this year.

But the real stuff will start next year, when WSR will convert to an eight-team competition taking in outfits from the Asia-Pacific region.

One of the big goals of billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest was to use WSR as a vehicle to attract new fans to the game of rugby.

Fireworks, live music, light shows, and dancers have all added to the atmosphere at matches, while rule changes have been introduced to speed up the game and make it more exciting.

Wessels has been impressed by the whole concept.

"There's things they're doing around the game that makes it enjoyable for all ages, and possibly people who maybe haven't fallen in love with the game yet," Wessels said.

"That's very appealing to everybody.

"It's been satisfying to know that professional rugby still exists and is still going as strong as ever in WA, which is wonderful."

The Force took it right up to the Rebels, with the visitors held scoreless until the 32nd minute.

Wessels lavished praise on the Force and their coach Tim Sampson.

"I said to Tim at the end of the game, you're at the start of something special," Wessels said.

"It's not going to happen in five minutes. But you can certainly see, just from a character perspective, that the Force boys are really playing for each other, which is really special."

The Force will be back in action on June 22 when they host NZ heavyweights the Crusaders.