Brisbane Tens axed but hope remains for future
YOU can put your Trump masks, second-hand Hawaiian shirts and taco costumes in mothballs because the festive Brisbane Global Rugby Tens are set to be put on hold next year.
A concrete announcement is expected on Friday to pause the two-day tournament because the demands of the Rugby World Cup year will bite too deeply into the stars available in February.
A hiatus during the four-year deal to host the tournament at Suncorp Stadium was always contemplated, just as rugby league's Nines were put on hold in 2017 during a World Cup year.
The tournament was a hit with players, coaches, clubs and upbeat backers from Queensland's State Government and Brisbane City Council.
The avid fans who did turn out for the fun this year lapped it up, but a 30,000-strong crowd over two days was 10,000 under expectations.
While the Tens were a sharp new addition in 2017-18, when rugby turnouts had faded for a Queensland Reds team stuck near the bottom of Super Rugby, the tournament also suffered, in part, because of that landscape.
The 10-a-side concept is a winner though and, if ruling body SANZAAR is smart, the tournament should be embedded in the new map of the Super Rugby season from 2020.
"After wonderfully entertaining tournaments in 2017 and 2018 it's a real shame we've had to make what is a very tough call," tournament chief executive Rachael Carroll said.
"We've considered many scenarios for 2019 but, unfortunately, we haven't been able to come up with a viable option.
"Unfortunately, the World Cup would almost certainly have had an impact on our ability to attract the very best players to the tournament in 2019.
"Moving forward we believe the event's future is bright. The level of entertainment on the field well and truly lived up to expectations and the event generated millions of dollars in additional revenues for the sport.
"The positive feedback we received after the events was incredible. Spectators in the stadium, viewers at home, players, coaches and administrators all clearly loved the event."
Kiwi rugby fans revelled in the chance to support their visiting teams and the Chiefs (2017) and Blues (2018) delivered victories as the champion clubs.
French clubs Toulon (2017) and Pau (2018) were popular inclusions, and the Pacific Islands were represented through Samoa (2017) and Fiji (2018). Japan's Panasonic Wild Knights were a hit both years and every Australian and Kiwi Super Rugby club joined the two-day festival.
The tournament even lived up to its billing that it would help flush out rugby's rising stars - young All Black-to-be Jordie Barrett was a head-turner last year just as Blues finisher Caleb Clarke, who will face the Reds in Auckland on Friday night, was a dynamic player-of-the-series this year.
Organisers Duco Events were nimble in switching the event to a day-night format this year to beat the heat and expanded the popular women's component of the Tens to seven matches.
That step paid off big time with an absorbing extra time win for Queensland over NSW and a crunching tackle from teenager Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea.
The Tens definitely have a place on the rugby calendar.
It just won't be next year in Brisbane.