Big ambitions for Brisbane Tens

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brisbane Tens organisers have lofty goals in their sights, looking for expansion and the addition of women to the program in years to come.

With 14 teams in the inaugural tournament, the four pools were uneven and there was consternation from the Brumbies, who won two of their three pool games but missed out on the quarter-finals, while the Force progressed having won just one.

The Northern Hemisphere countries would seemingly be the most difficult to attract, with February coinciding with critical points in their domestic competitions and also the Six Nations.

Drew Mitchell was one of Toulon's biggest names in the Tens. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyToulon was the only European side who came down for the competition but brought its second tier of players and came away with one try and no wins from their three games.

Japan would certainly seem like an easy target for attracting fans, along with the possible addition of teams from the island nations such as Fiji and Tonga, with Samoa fielding a national representative side in the first competition.

Duco Events CEO Rachael Carroll said they were looking to add teams to the competition, suggesting the lineup of international sides could change year to year.

“The 14 team format may not be absolutely ideal, I still suggest that the best team here on the day will win. 16 teams is something that we’ll have a good hard look at,” she said.

“I think that we’ll all find we’ll get increasing interest out of international markets. What the Panasonic Wild Knights have achieved over of this tournament – this tournament is being broadcast into Japan – we’ll be interested to see the response there.

“There’s a whole Top League of teams over there as a first point.

“South Africans, Fiji, we’ve had overwhelming feedback saying we’d love to see Fiji in this tournament and let’s look at the UK as well. - Rachael Carroll

“There are some challenges in terms of sporting calendars and when these competitions all land.

“I hear there could be changes to some of the scheduling up there so we’ll keep a very close eye on that and continue the discussions.

Carroll also flagged a hope to include a concurrent women’s competition, similar to that in the Sydney Sevens, which introduced a women’s competition this season.

Samoa featured in the inaugural Brisbane Tens. Photo: Getty ImagesQueensland and NSW played two exhibition matches over the weekend in game breaks and Carroll said that was just the start.

“I was always a supporter of getting women into this tournament and again they showed that they created one of the best moments of the tournament in terms of atmosphere and people really getting behind it.

“There’s absolutely a place for women in this tournament and we’ll be going back to look at how can we grow and expand that within here because they’re a critical part of what this concept is.”

The weather was clearly a drawback for the Brisbane tournament, with a heat wave across South-East Queensland limiting walk-ups and Carroll said they would look at options like shifting the tournament later on in the day or shifting to start on a Saturday night.

Tens fans braved the heat at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyCarroll dismissed speculation that the Brisbane Tens could have a venue switch with the Auckland Nines, which has waned in popularity since its inception.

“We’ve got a four-year contract with the Queensland State Government and with Brisbane City Council for the event to happen here,” she said.

“We’ve seen that Queenslanders, despite the heat, have come out, have supported this event. We’re moving forward to continue in Queensland.”

The lack of top-line All Blacks didn’t dim the success of the Kiwi teams in the competition, with three of four semi-finalists coming from New Zealand, but Carroll said Duco was looking for a way to allow those players to play in 2018.

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