Brumbies lock in S'pore date

Brumbies lock in S'pore date

One of rugby's most exciting wingers is set to take flight at the Singapore Sports Hub in June.

Henry Speight, dubbed the "Flying Fijian" both for his speed and the unique way he celebrates his tries, is among the big names who will feature at the upcoming World Club 10s championship.

His team, Australian rugby powerhouse Brumbies, are the first top side to confirm their participation for the June 21-22 tournament.

Organisers are looking to bring in more elite clubs from across the globe to create a "North v South" feel at the event - the first to be held at the new National Stadium.

The Straits Times has learnt that English giants Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints, as well as the Blues and the Chiefs from New Zealand, are also in advanced talks to compete at the eight-team showpiece.

Asia Pacific Dragons, an invitational side that showcases the region's best players, will represent Asia.

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 bring their best available players.

For the Brumbies, these include the likes of Wallabies captain Ben Mowen and Speight. Star flanker David Pocock, unfortunately, is ruled out for the season with a serious knee injury.

The Canberra-based club finished runners-up to the Chiefs in the top-tier Super Rugby series last year. Coach Stephen Larkham, a key player in Australia's 1999 World Cup-winning outfit, said: "Brumbies are very excited about being part of this great new event and being able to play against other world-class clubs in Singapore.

"We're looking forward to playing in the impressive new stadium and welcoming Brumbies and Australian fans to support us."

Officials have targeted crowds upwards of 15,000 at the 55,000-capacity stadium in Kallang. The first-of-its-kind competition will be held here for three years at least.

Tickets are priced at $40 a day or $70 for a two-day pass, with discounts for Singaporeans to be announced soon.

"We want rugby enthusiasts as well as those who have no clue about the game to come and enjoy this bite-sized format," said Jon Phelps, managing director of tournament promoter Carinat Sports Marketing.

Tens rugby is growing in popularity, as matches are shorter and generally more unpredictable than the 15-a-side version.

Unlike the sevens edition that features only speedy backs, the 10-a-side format - on a full-sized rugby pitch - also includes the forwards to deliver the hard tackles.

A series of 20-minute games will run from 9am to early evening over the two days. There will also be coaching clinics and meet-and-greet opportunities with the players.

Former All-Blacks Justin Marshall and Tana Umaga are among the sport's icons slated to be in town in the coming months to visit schools and promote the championship.

The experience of staging a high-profile rugby event bodes well for Singapore as it bids to be a part of the Sevens World Series in 2015-16 and host the 2018 World Cup Sevens tournament.

Singapore Rugby Union vice-president Jonathan Leow said: "This is the first time top-level clubs are coming here.

"There will be much for us to learn, not just in terms of organisation and logistics but for our local players, referees and technical officials as well."


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