SPORTS

$0.25m For Super Rugby 10s Winner

Plans are well advanced for a million-dollar 10-a-side rugby tournament to be launched in Brisbane from next year involving all five New Zealand Super Rugby sides. Duco Events, organisers of
23 Feb 2016 12:44
$0.25m For Super Rugby 10s Winner

Plans are well advanced for a million-dollar 10-a-side rugby tournament to be launched in Brisbane from next year involving all five New Zealand Super Rugby sides.

Duco Events, organisers of rugby league’s NRL Auckland Nines and promoters of Kiwi heavyweight boxing champion Joseph Parker, are locked in negotiations to pull off an ambitious 14-team, multi-year Super 10s tournament boasting seven-figure prizemoney – including a quarter of a million-dollar payday for the winners – and appearance fees.

The two-day event is expected to feature all five New Zealand and five Australian Super Rugby teams, plus four other club sides from Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Matches would be 10-a-side played over 10-minute halves, and be staged at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Discussions between Duco, who confirmed the concept but declined to comment further, the New Zealand and Australian rugby unions and various other parties have been going on for the past year.

The Australian Rugby Union said it was aware Duco were looking at the possibility of launching the Super Rugby season with a 10s tournament in Brisbane and had been in discussions with individual clubs.

It is aimed to kick off the tournament in February next year, just prior to the Super Rugby season.

No contracts have been signed but it is understood genuine interest exists among several Kiwi teams.

“At the moment it’s a concept under discussions and it’s far from being confirmed,” NZR general manager of strategic planning and relationships Nigel Cass said.

“Our key interest is the teams have got to want to take part in it and see some benefit in relation to their pre-season.

“We’ve made it clear that if it is going to go ahead then we want all New Zealand teams involved. That’s an ongoing discussion. Equally, our teams want all the Australian teams to be taking part.

“There is some upside in creating some immediate pre-season hype and excitement with a slightly new variation of the game, but there’s a lot of stuff to be worked through.”

In the age of private investment, prizemoney is the obvious lure for Super Rugby teams. Under the proposal it is understood all team costs would be covered and the winners stand to take home around $250,000, making it an attractive commercial proposition.

“Clearly you wouldn’t want to consider this type of exercise unless there was some commercial upside,” Cass said. “That’s clearly part of it, but it’s only one part.”

The 10s concept has been bubbling away below the professional game for a number of years. Celebrity tournaments are regularly held in Cape Town and, two years ago Piri Weepu led the Blues to success at the World Club 10s event in Singapore.

The hybrid game is also popular at the amateur level and, with only five less players than XVs, it is more structured than sevens.

“It hasn’t been part of New Zealand Rugby’s performance development approach but 10s has been used at a variety of levels as part of pre-season preparation for a long time,” Cass said. “As a concept this is quite interesting just to see where and how it might fit, but the calendar is very full and this can only work if the teams want to play.”

Much like rugby league’s Nines event, which secured a five-year deal in Auckland, Duco is pushing for a similar long-term agreement.

“I don’t think anyone would be spending the time talking things through to the level that’s been undertaken if you were just talking about a flash in the pan. If something like this got off the ground, you’d need to review but it’s not a one-year thing.”

Extensive consultation has included weighing up player-welfare concerns and suitable rest periods between games. Teams would run 18-man squads, with eight replacements and unlimited substitutions.

Each franchise could include one past legend but would be expected to field squads containing a certain number of stars.

NUMBERS GAME: hybrid sports you (sort of) recognise

Sevens: Hong Kong provided the spark that resulted in inclusion in this year’s Rio Olympics. The seven-aside game is fast and frenetic with oodles of space. It’s been the birthplace of many great All Blacks but the game is now struggling to hold down an event in New Zealand, with Wellington’s love affair fast dwindling.

10s: Popular pre-season event at amateur level. More structure than sevens with five-man scrums and more familiar breakdowns.

Nines: League’s version of sevens, though a closer companion to the main code with four less players than normal.

Fast5: Netball’s attempt to attract new fans with two less players per team and scoring incentives for attempting longer shots.

Twenty20 cricket: Condensed version started as hit and giggle but is now hugely popular.

3×3 basketball: Half-court game features different scoring system.

Beach volleyball: Two players each side instead of six.

Beach football: All-action, compact field of five players rather than 11. Likely to see it a lot on Brazil’s Copacabana beach.

Sunday Star Times

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