French rugby powerhouse Perpignan will battle for Singapore’s World Club Challenge this year, after they were named as the fourth and final side for the inaugural clash of the hemispheres.
The Catalonian club, currently boasting mercurial All Black Dan Carter, will lock horns with English premiership sides Gloucester and Saracens plus Australian Super 14 outfit Western Force in July.
Each team will bring a full-strength squad for the week-long event, organiser and former England international Phil Greening told Reuters.
“This will be the first time leading professional clubs with world-class players will have played in Singapore and the event will be the first of its kind – a real signature event for Singapore to underline it’s status as a sporting hub of Asia,” Greening said.
“It is a great opportunity for an elite rugby event in Asia… with the city-centre Padang as the backdrop and truly world-class internationals giving their all, the World Club Challenge will be a spectacular sporting occasion.
“To have secured Perpignan’s participation gives this challenge the lustre it deserves and completes a line-up of four of the world’s best teams,” he said.
The challenge is the brainchild of retired Wasps hooker Greening, who toured Australia with the British and Irish Lions in 2001 and it has the full backing on the Singapore government.
The July 2009 event will take place downtown at Singapore’s historic cricket club and the event is planned to be hosted by the city-state for at least the next five years.
The tournament will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world, where clubs from across the globe compete in one tournament in the full 15 a-side game, organisers said.
The clubs are due to arrive in the south-east Asian city-state on July 24 and the World Club Challenge is scheduled to last one week.
Greening said in future years the event would feature European and Super 14 champions by invitation.
Perpignan are currently flying high in the French championship in third place while Western Force finished mid-table in last year’s Super 14 standings in Australia with the 2009 season yet to start. Gloucester sit second in the Premiership with Saracens currently sixth of 12 teams.
The Singaporean government is to use the impetus of the World Club Challenge to host a parallel sporting seminar, tapping the expertise of the rugby clubs and players involved to help develop all sport in the region. Experts in sports conditioning, nutrition and sports marketing will pool information to benefit sport’s growth in Asia.Tweet