With just under two weeks to go until the Rugby Tens Championship comes to South Africa, we have looked at what exactly rugby tens are.
A variant of rugby union, the game was developed in Asia in the late 1960s and has since become a regular feature at rugby tournaments in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Manila, and Stockholm.
It is now a professional sport thanks to the Rugby Tens Championship, with international franchises promoting equality for men and women players, and offering Academy athletes the opportunity to contribute to their team’s efforts in the Championship competition.
An exciting format of the game that will only continue to develop in the years to come. But for some people who might be new to the world of rugby 10s, here are 10 simple rules:
Rule 1: Each team has 10 players, five forwards and five backs
Rule 2: Forwards may include: 2 props, 1 hooker and 2 locks
Rule 3: Backs may include: 1 scrum-half, 1 fly-half, 1 center, 1 wing, and 1 fullback
Rule 4: Matches are 20 minutes (10 minutes each half)
Rule 5: Five rolling subs on the bench.
Rule 6: Conversion attempts are drop kicks and must be taken within 40 seconds
Rule 7: The team that scores takes the kick-off
Rule 8: There are no loose forwards in the scrum
Rule 9: A yellow card suspension lasts two minutes
Rule 10: If a match is drawn after 20 minutes, it goes to 5-min sudden death followed by drop kicking knock-out competition
“I’m excited to see what we’re able to create with the Tens (10s) rules. The beauty of Tens (10s) is that we don’t have to go massive to be dominant. The game allows for more space and utilizing a versatile back line will provide opportunities for players to explore their points of difference in key matchups. Knowing we have 5 rolling subs able to come in and inject energy, power & pace into the game is a massive benefit in the game of 10s” noted Lisa Jackson, the San Clemente Rhinos Assistant Coach and the USA Kathy Flores Award 2022 recipient.
The Rugby Tens Championship is going to be played in Pretoria [October 7-8] at Harlequin Rugby Club and Loftus Versfeld respectively, and in Stellenbosch [October 14-15] at Danie Craven Stadium, with five professional franchises fielding men’s, women’s, boys, and girls teams each weekend of action.
Not only competing to win the individual legs of competition in the two South African cities, but teams’ efforts will also be contributing to the Championship competition. Gaining points from their positioning in the two stages, whoever ends Stellenbosch with the most points will find themselves the Championship winners. This adds another dimension to the competition, with everything on the line until the very final whistle.
Blending the two formats, as 10s combines the physicality of 15s with the skill and dynamic play of Sevens, there are plenty who see value in the newly professional format of the game.
Having had its first outing in Portugal last November, the inaugural edition of the Rugby Tens Championship attracted star names from across the world of rugby. This included a variety of names who made their names famous globally in both the seven-a-side and 15-a-side game.
Coaching the San Clemente Rhinos for a second year is former Blitzbok captain, Frankie Horne. Amongst other things, Horne was a 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medalist and likes a lot of what 10s has to offer for the players on the field and the coaches on the touchline.
“The beauty of 10s is that you have multiple options from playing a sevens style, based on players you pick or leaning more to a 15s style where you stick to more traditional roles,” Horne said.
“You can utilize half-backs as hookers for lineouts to have more forwards in the back, play two wings instead of a full-back and let your nine sweep like in sevens.
“You can be very versatile with selections and styles of play, which makes this game great.”
Also coaching in Pretoria and Stellenbosch will be Horne’s long-time teammate, Cecil Afrika. Recently having represented his country at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town, the rugby sevens legend will be an assistant coach with the Cape Town Wild Dogs Women’s team.
Legend of both sevens and 15s, Heather Fisher will be on the touchline as an assistant coach with the Balkans Honey Badgers.
Among the playing group, 22 nations will be represented across all the teams. This includes a strong representation of players from traditional tier one and two countries, who often don’t get the opportunity to showcase their skill as a professional level.