The Auckland Blues were crowned the champions of the inaugural Rugby World Club 10s at Singapore's new National Stadium on 22 June, after beating ACT Brumbies 10-5.
In the thrilling championship-deciding game, the score was locked at 5-5 at full time. The Brumbies opened scoring in the fourth minute with a first-half try by scrum-half Conrad Hoffman. In the second half, forward Tom Mccartney equalised for the Blues within two minutes of play.
But it was The Blues’ midfielder Jackson Willison, who scored the match-winning last try in "golden-point extra time", where the first team to score would win. He capitalised on errors by the Brumbies and secured the title for the New Zealand side, led by former All Blacks half-back, Piri Weepu.
“Both teams were fighting all the way to the end and we were lucky enough to be victors. It was an honour. The boys were stoked to have this opportunity and to be a part of this event in Singapore,” Weepu said.
He added, “I’m also very proud to be able to say I scored the first try in this fantastic new national stadium!”
The teams were among eight international professional club teams from Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand competing at the two-day rugby tournament.
The Asia Pacific Dragons, made up of players from the southern hemisphere and coached by former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga, beat the Cardiff Blues to clinch third place. The Dragons count Singaporean national player Reiner Leong among its ranks. And Leong put on an impressive showing, scoring two tries on day one, and one try on day two, accumulating a total of 15 points for the tournament.
Singaporean Reiner Leong (right) scored a try for the Asia Pacific Dragons against the Cardiff Blues in the semi-finals of the World Club 10s (Photo:World Club 10s)
The Samoa Water President 10s team finished in fifth position, defeating the London Welsh with a score of 28-14. Italian team Petrarca came in seventh place, beating French team Biarritz Olympique 12-5.
The inaugural Rugby World Club 10s was the first sporting event to be held at the $1.33 billion dollar National Stadium. Despite the less than ideal pitch conditions, which resulted in players kicking up dust throughout the tournament, and the three-quarters empty stadium, the two-day tournament saw almost 11,000 spectators in attendance.
Organiser Carinat Sports Marketing said there are already plans to bring the tournament back in July 2015. Additional teams from Scotland and South Africa may feature among the line-up.
In the upcoming months, the National Stadium will play host to an exhibition match between Italian Serie A champions Juventus and a Singapore selection side on 16 August.
Other than sporting events, the venue will also be used as a concert arena, with shows by Singapore singer Stefanie Sun and her Kepler World Tour (5 July) and Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s Opus II concert (8 November). British boyband One Direction, who will be in Singapore for the first time, are slated to play at the stadium on 11 March 2015.