SINGAPORE - A SECOND marquee sports tournament could be on its way to the Singapore Sports Hub, hot on the heels of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) season-end gala.
The Straits Times has learnt that the World Club 10s Championship, a first-of-its-kind rugby union competition, is close to being finalised, bringing together the world's top clubs to play the increasingly popular 10s version of the game.
The tournament will see teams from the Heineken Cup - considered the European Champions League of rugby - and the southern hemisphere's Super Rugby series compete at the Kallang masterpiece.
The three-day extravaganza, to be held annually at the new 55,000-capacity National Stadium, is earmarked for its debut next July, three months after the facility opens its doors. It would also precede the WTA Championships by three months.
It is understood that the organisers have already approached French powerhouses Toulouse and Super Rugby champions Chiefs from New Zealand to take part.
But unlike some regional tournaments where teams send their reserve or youth squads and do not take the games seriously, participating clubs will be required to send their best players.
A source said: "Organisers want the championship to be a credible event where the fans will get top-quality action from rugby's biggest names."
This means that from Toulouse and the Chiefs alone, Singaporeans could have an up-close look at France's national captain Thierry Dusautoir and winger Vincent Clerc, and a host of All Blacks stars like Mils Muliaina, Aaron Cruden and Luke McAllister.
Rugby fans welcomed the prospect of watching the big names deliver the big hits. Said Steven Gan, 32: "We've had top football clubs come here, it's about time we see the same for rugby." Up to 12 teams are slated to compete, including an Asian selection with players from Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.
Besides the tournament, the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) has also recently announced its intention to bid to host the Sevens World Series in 2015 and the 2018 World Cup Sevens tournament.
An annual quadrangular series featuring Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong and Japan 'B' is also planned. Said SRU president Low Teo Ping: "We are committed to giving Singaporeans year-round access to high-level rugby and add to the Sports Hub's portfolio of elite events."
Tens rugby is growing in popularity, as matches are shorter, more open and generally more unpredictable than the 15-a-side version.
Unlike the sevens edition that features only pacey backs, the 10-a-side also includes the forwards to deliver the hard tackles.
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