Former Springbok stars Bob Skinstad and Robbie Fleck have promised to put Cape Town on the map, after launching an exciting and ground-breaking Rugby Tens tournament that is set to take place in the Mother City in February 2009.
Rugby 365 reports that Skinstad, a World Cup winner last year, and Fleck, a former Bok vice-captain, made this pledge at the launch of this event at the BMW Pavillion at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront on Friday evening.
The aptly-named Cape Town Tens – a two-day festival of rugby, with a large emphasis, of course, on post-match enjoyment – will take place under the auspices of South Africa’s oldest rugby club, Hamiltons, on February 7-8, 2009.
And the former Boks – both of whom boast extensive playing experience, having played at various levels across South Africa, Australasia and Europe for many years – believe the Cape Town Tens will help put the city on the map ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
“A bunch of expats travel the world playing Tens rugby across Asia and it’s about time that they came to Africa,” said Skinstad, who has played in a few of these Tens tournaments himself. “Cape Town has always been seen as the most cosmopolitan city in the country, so it made sense in every aspect to make the Mother City the home of Tens rugby in Africa.”
Fleck, who made his Tens debut in Bangkok in February of this year, added: “I’ve played just one Tens tournament, but already I’m a convert. It caters for all shapes and sizes, whilst we think Cape Town is the ultimate venue, with the perfect attractions and people here, who will help make the tournament a massive success both on and off the field.”
However, Skinstad and Fleck will not be going at it alone, with the duo joining forces with Tournament Director Ron Rutland, himself a veteran of a few Tens tournaments as a player, but, more recently, as one of the organisers of the very successful Bangkok Tens.
Rutland, who has known Skinstad since the early 1990s, invited the former Bok skipper to play for the ‘Jamboys’ in the Bangkok Tens in 2006. After missing the 2007 event due to Super 14 commitments, Skinstad – with Fleck in tow – returned to Bangkok in 2008, which is how the idea of the Cape Town Tens first began.
“After chatting to Ron in Bangkok, it just made sense,” revealed Fleck. “Cape Town shouldn’t have to stand back to any other city in the world… Plus, we believe Tens rugby has the potential to become rugby’s version of 20/20 and we want the South African rugby public to join in the fun.
“Obviously the rugby is important, and the level of (rugby) support in Cape Town is always absolutely fantastic, but we’re hoping that the Cape Town Tens becomes more than just a rugby event and something of a regular fixture on the social calendar – much like the J&B Met is in Cape Town every February.”
Tournament Director Rutland, who played alongside Fleck and Skinstad in the 2008 Bangkok Tens, explained the rationale behind playing this 10-a-side version of the game.
“With no loose forwards on the pitch it opens things up a bit more and lets the backs have a go,” said Rutland, “but, at the same, you can’t neglect your scrums and line-outs and there’s even a time and a place for a bit of rucking.”
Looking at the tournament itself, Rutland has high hopes ahead of the 2009 Cape Town Tens, saying: “When we started the Bangkok Tens in 2004 there were just 16 teams and the tournament was played on a dustbowl doubling up as a pitch.
“Now there are 32 teams playing, the games are played at a top private school in Bangkok and before it starts some 600 kids take part in a massive mini-rugby festival. I have no doubt in my mind that the Cape Town Tens will achieve just that – only bigger, better and quicker.”
The 2009 Cape Town Tens will get going with a lavish pre-tournament function on Friday, February 6, before the round robin action gets underway the following day. There will be three levels of action; the beer league (for those that want to have a bit of fun off the park!), the veteran league (for those a bit long in the tooth) and the premier league.
The first day will see all the teams take part in the round robin phase, before moving to the knockout stages the next day. Win or lose on the Saturday, all the teams will have a chance to play more matches on the second day – eventually culminating in the various finals.
“When I played in Bangkok, we played in the premier league and it was actually very competitive. In fact, some youngsters showed me a thing or two!” said Fleck. “But even that ended with a couple of beers being shared and some friends being made, many of whom we’re hoping to lure to Cape Town in February.”
Fleck has already had contact with the likes of former All Blacks great Josh Kronfeld, whilst ex-Wallabies Pat Howard, Tim Horan and David Wilson have all expressed a keen interest to play, along with Samoan stars Zak Feaunati, George Harder and Mike Umaga.
“I have already spoken to some of my old teammates like Corné (Krige) and André Vos to come and join in the fun – they have no excuse not to play,” said Fleck.
“At the same time, however, we would also like to target the likes of Christian Cullen, Gregor Townsend, Will Greenwood and Allan Bateman, all of whom would help make this a truly international event.”
Skinstad, meanwhile, claims to have sounded out Toks van der Linde – “just to get the props involved!” – whilst former British stars Kenny Logan (Scotland) and Paul Wallace (Ireland) all want to be part of the inaugural Cape Town Tens.
“It’s very important not to forget about the props,” quipped Skinstad. “Props, hookers and locks also get old and they’re not exactly equipped to go and play Sevens!
“Sevens is basically all about one link man and six gas men, whereas Tens gives you that space, but also doesn’t neglect the basics of the game.”
An official public launch – watch the press for more details – will take place in November, when the Cape Town Tens committee hopes to announce which big-name players will be in attendance. An announcement will also be made concerning which local charity the tournament will support in order to give something else back to the City of Cape Town.
“Already we’ve been very lucky to have the support and full backing of the V&A Waterfront and it seems rather appropriate that Hamiltons – the oldest rugby club in the country – are also involved not just as hosts, but as official partners of the tournament,” said Fleck, who also confirmed that Castle Lager had already signed on as the Cape Town Tens’ first sponsor.
“We’re expecting a competitive two days of rugby, coupled with plenty of fun afterwards for all the players and supporters, some high-level coaching clinics for any aspirant youngsters out there and an opportunity for this tournament to become an integral part of the Tens circuit.”
Skinstad concluded: “Judging by the interest from potential sponsors and players, I can safely say that the Cape Town Tens is on track to become the Hong Kong Sevens of its time. We have one of the best in the business in (Tournament Director) Ron Rutland on board and we believe can make this a truly special annual event in years to come.
“Fleckie and I have played social rugby all over the world – and we love it. Now, we have a chance to reciprocate and play host to all the wonderful characters and legends of the game that we have had so many good times with. With Cape Town in the mix we’re hoping to make this ‘party at our place’ the hot ticket to have in the rugby world.”Tweet