After the demise of his beloved Western Force and the Wallabies’ humiliating loss to the All Blacks in Sydney last Saturday, it seems Matt Hodgson has all but fallen out of love with Australian rugby.
The veteran of 11 Tests for Australia and 140 Super Rugby games for the Force took to Facebook last night, chronicling his rugby journey and bemoaning the code’s astonishing decline on these shores in recent years.
Hodgson’s post reads:
The game & great people I grew up loving have now changed & I am losing my love for the game with every day.
One of my greatest memories was watching the Bledisloe at Homebush stadium in 2000 with over 90,000 people next to me, cheering on our idols. I distinctly remember watching Kefu score the match winning try, followed by John Eales kicking the match winning goal.
I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to play the game I love at all levels. Playing juniors for a small club on the NSW Central Coast (Avoca Beach), then making the move to Sydney to try my luck at the next level. I was lucky to find a great club in Eastwood; they took me in as one of their own & I was part of a community, a family.
My journey took some ups & downs. I have been close to being forced out of the game on many occasions due to injury. Even in the darkest of my days I still loved The game. The game was not to blame.
Through a lot of determination & pain I was able to play again. I wasn’t sure if another opportunity to play professionally was going to come my way. All I wanted to do was be part of that Rugby family again.
Then I got the call from the Western Force to fill the last place in their roster. It was a tough decision to move states, leave my family & mates to follow my dream; a dream to maybe play with or against my childhood heroes.
I honestly thought I would be in Perth for a couple of season, then return back to Sydney to return to my normal life. But that all changed when I fell in Love with the Club the Western Force & Rugby in WA. I had found a new rugby family & I have never looked back. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that was given to me & will be a loyal & faithful servant of this family as long as they’ll have me.
Yes there where tough times on & off the field. But my love for the game, club & Sea of Blue has never waived .
This year has been the hardest year I have ever been involved in with Rugby & it has nothing to do with the game on the field. I love the style of rugby we have been playing & I could not have been prouder of our boys & the way the Western Force organisation conducted itself this year.
This year has been filled with sleepless nights. The moments that are quiet, when you stop & think we might not be doing what we love next year with our rugby family.
When a fellow team mate comes up to you for answers & you don’t have any. When a 6 year old you are coaching asks why they hate the Western Force. When a fan of 12 years ask you to stop them from taking away their dream of playing for the Force. When the stalwart of the game, a guy who washes the jerseys & sets the field ready for training every session & asks for nothing in return, is gutted for how his rugby family is being treated.
How do we process that?
They turn to me for strength, leadership, guidance & answers. I want to be all they need me to be. But how do I do that when those in power have not told me why? 134 days since this all started & I’m still waiting for a single face to face meeting with those making the decisions. I still have no straight answers as the story keeps changing. It just doesn’t add up.
I think that I have been a loyal servant of the game. I’ve played club rugby for many great teams, captained the Australian 7s, played under 21s, captained at Super Rugby, Played Australia A & I am Wallabies #841.
But my feelings towards rugby in Australia are waiving. I am struggling to maintain my love due to the disbelief & disappointment that I have for the custodians of our game. How can they treat my rugby family like this?
Today might just be the day I finally loose the love of the game, after another opportunity to make the right decision again was wasted. It’s never too late to make the right decision.
Will the love ever come back? I’m not sure.
I have lost my game, I have lost one of my heroes & I still don’t know why.
In between rallying for the Force’s reinstatement to Super Rugby, the long-serving flanker has started a new job at F45 Training in Subiaco.