As far as taglines go, the Rugby Tens Championship’s is relatively simple; Rugby. Equality. Entertainment.
Those three words tell you exactly what to expect from the professional series, which will be hosting its inaugural event at the end of November in Lisbon, Portugal. With two days of action planned on the 27th and 28th of November, the Rugby Tens Championship puts an emphasis on equality and is proud to do so. Four teams will be competing, with each team having four playing sides attached to it. Each of the San Clemente Rhinos, Balkans Honey Badgers, Serengeti Elephants and Cape Town Wild Dogs will have a men’s, women’s, Academy Boys and Academy Girls section attached to them. This is not only for men and women, but for the academy teams that will be competing at the Estádio Universitário de Lisboa, the home of the Portuguese national rugby union team, and club side S.L. Benfica.
Competition formats will be mirrored, facilities shared, giving all athletes the stage to excel and contributing to the Rugby Tens Championship’s inclusive culture.This culture can be seen no further than the management team who founded the Rugby Tens Championship, with Romania, the USA, South Africa and France represented on the board. Chris Brown is a senior advisor to the Rugby Tens Championship and brings with him a wealth of experience.
From 2014 to 2021, Brown worked with both the men’s and women’s sevens teams at USA Rugby, most recently leading the women to a sixth place finish at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Ahead of the first ever Rugby Tens Championship event, Brown is optimistic about the potential that the competition has. “We are constantly looking for playing opportunities outside of the World Series, especially for our extended squad members,” Brown said. “It is hard to find this at a competitive level. What I love about 10s is the combination between the versions. “You still have more time and space than 15s, however there is less obvious space so decision making, at least from an attacking side, is challenged, if not more than in a slightly different way. “So to see this international competition get up and running truly excites me and I can not wait to see this first season play out” Already a smattering of star names have signed up to compete and coach in western Europe.
South Africa Sevens legend Frankie Horne will be an assistant coach for San Clemente’s mens side, whilst former Eagles scrum-half and current Dartmouth coach Katie Dowty will be taking charge of the Rhinos women. Elsewhere, Major League Rugby Player of the Year Mikey Te’o will be looking to pick up where he left with the Utah Warriors, former Black Fern Aimee Sutorius is making her way to the northern hemisphere, as is Kenya legend Collins Injera and Japan sevens captain, Chiharu Nakamura. With plenty of high-profile names still yet to be announced, it is sure to be a spectacle in late-November, streamed live on The Rugby Network. Looking to stage events in Cape Town, Paris and Las Vegas in the coming months, the doors opening for players at all levels of the game are eye watering. For Neasa McLaughlin (Rhinos Rugby and Morris Rugby Club) this is very much the case. The New Jersey native is potentially a future star of the women’s game in the USA and believes that the Rugby Tens Championship can give her and others the platform to excel in front of a major audience. “Events like the R10C are important to me as they create an equal platform for male and female athletes to showcase their talents on the same stage,” Neasa said.
“As an academy player, I have had the opportunity to share the experience and learn alongside my professional counterparts. I am excited to play in R10C because it gives women and girls the opportunity to compete with and against top tier international talent.” A full season’s competition is split across two formats; the series and the championship. For the 2022 season, four legs of competition are planned, with Lisbon being the first of these, with further stages planned to take place in Cape Town, Las Vegas and Paris. Men’s, women’s, boys and girls squads will collect a certain number of points depending on where they place at a singular event. These points will then be added together and then divided by two, giving them their series points for that event. Series points will then go towards the overall championship score. Similar to Formula 1’s Constructors Championship, this will create a competition to the very end of the series and allows for team’s to compete until the very end of a Rugby Tens Championship season.