After South Africa’s Cell C Sharks and reigning three-time European champions RC Toulon of France, the Aquis Brumbies from Australia and Stade Francais have joined the line-up for the second edition of the spectacular 10-a-side rugby invitational tournament, of which Beachcomber Hotels is a Platinum Sponsor.
While the Australian franchise and six-time Super Rugby finalists, Aquis Brumbies will look to make up for their defeat in the 2014 final in Singapore, the 14 times French champions, Stade Francais will be participating in the World Cup 10s for the first time.
This invitational eight-team showdown will be held at Anjalay Stadium, Mauritius on 18 and 19 June. The remaining four teams for the second edition will be announced soon.
The Brumbies return to the event after reaching the final two years ago, when Stephen Larkham watched as his men lost 10-5 to the Blues in extra-time of a gripping all-Super Rugby clash. The head coach is keen for the team to go one better in Mauritius.
“The Brumbies are really looking forward to competing in the second World Club 10s, as we feel we have a little unfinished business after coming so close to winning the first,” said Larkham, 41.
“We were very proud to play in the World Club 10s as it was the first of its kind and it was special playing against some teams, especially from the northern hemisphere, that we had never played before. However, having come so close to winning, the Brumbies will definitely be on a mission in Mauritius.”
A Brumbies and Wallabies legend, Larkham won 102 caps from 1996 to 2007 and the flyhalf’s legendary partnership with scrumhalf George Gregan helped Australia win the Rugby World Cup in 1999 and reach the final four years later.
Larkham helped the Brumbies win their two Super Rugby titles in 2001 and 2004, and reach a further three finals, in 1997, 2000 and 2002.
As attack coach, he helped Brumbies reach their sixth Super Rugby final in 2013, while as head coach he has guided the side to the semis for the past two years.
“I’m a Brumbie through and through, having played most of my club rugby here, so I’m determined for the side to do their best in Mauritius, represent the club with pride and help grow the Brumbies’ reputation internationally,” Larkham said.
“Rugby’s a global game so I’m excited that the second World Club 10s will be held in Mauritius and proud that the club is part of what should be a beautiful festival of rugby.”
Nine of the current Brumbies squad helped Australia reach the final of last year’s World Cup, where Larkham was the Wallabies’ attack and backs coach.
Australia captain Stephen Moore, flankers David Pocock and Scott Fardy, prop Scott Sio and outside centre Tevita Kuridrani all started the final against New Zealand, while flyhalf Matt Toomua, wingers Henry Speight and Joe Tomane, and lock Sam Carter were also in the 31-man squad.
Stade Francais will be another big draw at the World Club 10s after they enjoyed a stunning run in the playoffs to win the Top 14 last June and confirm their resurgence after several difficult seasons.
Fourth in the table, the Paris club went on to beat city rivals Racing Metro, top-placed Toulon and finally Clermont for their first championship since winning five titles in 10 seasons from 1997-98 to 2006-07.
Thomas Savare, President of Stade Francais, said: “I’m very proud to announce that Stade Francais will be making their debut in the World Club 10s. It’s particularly special for our club to compete in Mauritius, which has long been a favourite destination for French people and is like a ‘home away from home’ for us.
“With two Top 14 teams competing, we expect strong support in Mauritius, but the line-up of clubs looks very strong, so it will be a very difficult tournament to win.”
Italy legend Sergio Parisse, the club captain, is among the star names for the 14-time French champions, while French duo Julien Arias and Jonathan Danty and towering Fiji wing Waisea Nayacalevu were among the Top 14’s leading try scorers last season.
Stade Francais have a strong South African contingent, including Springboks Morne Steyn and Willem Alberts, while other players hail from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Samoa and Georgia.
Arnaud Martin, Chairman of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), said: “We’re very excited that the Aquis Brumbies of Australia and French champions Stade Francais are joining the World Club 10s in Mauritius. With two French teams competing, we look forward to welcoming many rugby fans and players from France, which has long been the number one market for inbound tourism.
“Australia is another key market for visitors to Mauritius and I know that Australian rugby fans will find the combination of spectacular beaches, luxurious resorts and world-class rugby an attractive combination. I look forward to welcoming many rugby fans and visitors from across Australia.”
The World Club 10s will again be supported by tournaments for amateur clubs, universities, women’s teams and age-group sides. Organisers expect strong participation from Australia and particularly France. All of the finals of the supporting tournaments will be held at the main 16,000-capacity Anjalay Stadium on Sunday 19 June.
Beachcomber Hotels’ sponsorship of this prestigious event includes accommodation for the players taking part in the tournament at Trou aux Biches Resort & Spa, Le Victoria Hotel, Le Canonnier Hotel and Le Mauricia Hotel. They will also enjoy a day of golf at Paradis Hotel & Golf Club on 15 June.
The other sponsors of this tournament owned and organised by Carinat Marketing and sanctioned by World Rugby and Rugby Union Mauritius are the MTPA and Air Mauritius.
Australia international Joe Tomane of the Aquis Brumbies, who have joined the line-up for the World Club 10s in Mauritius from June 18-19, 2016. Photo: c/o Brumbies.
Hugo Bonneval of Stade Francais, who are the second French club to join this year’s World Club 10s in Mauritius. Photo: c/o Stade Francais.