The Chiefs and Rebels have been handed the honour of contesting the first ever Brisbane Global Rugby Tens match at Suncorp Stadium on February 11.
The Melbourne and Waikato-based clubs will launch the tournament on the stroke of midday on Saturday February 11 with their Pool A clash.
“There’ll certainly be no waiting around wondering what it is going to be like,” says Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie. “We’ll get the chance to crack straight into it. That’s awesome.”
The rugby world’s eyes will be on the Chiefs and Rebels as 13 of the game’s best club teams plus the Samoan national team come together for the world’s premier club rugby tournament at Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for us to kick off the Brisbane Tens tournament and get stuck straight into it against the two-time Super Rugby champions Chiefs,” Melbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan said.
McGahan’s comments were echoed by his Chiefs counterpart Dave Rennie.
“We’re rapt to be first out of the blocks,” Rennie said. “The Tens is a new and exciting concept for our squad so we’ll have to learn and adapt quickly. With so many world class players on show and all that space, it will be a great spectacle.”
Featuring a similar structure to the 15-a-side game but with more space on field for players to showcase their skills, Tens rugby is the perfect format for what will be a hugely entertaining launch of the Super Rugby season in Brisbane for at least the next four years.
“I can’t wait to get over there and get stuck into it,” McKenzie said. “With so many great teams and great players involved it is going to be incredible.”
The third-up match between hosts the Queensland Reds and traditional rivals the Blues, who have been drawn in Pool B alongside the six-time Super Rugby champion Crusaders and Tama Samoa, will also be eagerly anticipated.
The Reds-Blues rivalry harks back to the early 1990s when they were the teams to beat in the Super 6 and Super 10 competitions.
Drawn in what looks to be the most challenging pool, the Reds round out a rugged first day with a second-round match against the Crusaders at 6.00pm on day one.
That contest is a rematch between the clubs that contested the 2011 Super Rugby final at Suncorp Stadium – won by the Reds 18-13.
“It doesn’t get any tougher,” St George Reds coach Nick Stiles said. “You’ve got Crusaders, Samoa and Blues, three teams who will play very physical and expansive rugby so the good thing for us is it will really test us and that’s good preparation for the 2017 Super Rugby season.”
Other marquee matchups on Day One include the 2016 Super Rugby champions the Hurricanes taking on the 2015 champion Highlanders in a crossover match between pools C and D; the wildcard Panasonic Wild Knights of Japan taking their bow against the Waratahs in the second match of the tournament; and a clash between the Blues and Samoa late in day.
French heavyweights Toulon take their tournament bow against the Brumbies in Match 10 – marking the first time the star-studded outfit will appear on Australia soil.
Day two begins with the first all-Australia match-up between the Rebels and Waratahs at 10.00am and what is sure to be a keenly contested Kiwi derby between fierce rivals the Blues and Crusaders.
Knockout play begins with the first quarterfinal at 12.48pm and ends with the grand final at 5.40pm.
The luck of the draw has handed the Brumbies and Force the major challenge of playing all three of their pool games on Day One. However, should they qualify out of their respective pools, they will be rewarded by heading in to knockout play fully refreshed.
“It’s really exciting to have the schedule locked in so fans can see exactly when their teams will be playing and who they will be playing against,” tournament director Bryn Skilbeck said.
“The draw has certainly thrown together some mouth-watering match-ups, which we know fans will already be looking forward to.”
“With any draw tournament of this nature – when teams play a lot of matches in a short period of time – there are always challenges. In this case, the biggest challenge was ensuring teams had adequate rest periods between matches. We’ve been able to achieve that. which we are very happy about.
“The feedback from the clubs has been extremely positive. They are telling us they can’t wait to get stuck into the tournament and will be giving it everything to make a bit of history by winning the first ever Brisbane Global Rugby Tens title.”
Check out the full schedule here.