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Terence Ong
Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014

Sports

BLUES FIRST CHAMPS AT STADIUM

The Straits Times | Terence Ong | Wednesday, Jun 25, 2014

NZ side beat Aussie team Brumbies in extra time to win World Club 10s

NEW Zealand rugby powerhouse the Blues have become the first team to win a competition at Singapore's newly-built National Stadium.

This, after they defeated Australian side the Brumbies 10-5 in the final of the inaugural rugby World Club 10s yesterday.

On Saturday, the Auckland outfit also notched the first victory at the 55,000-seater arena when they dispatched France's Biarritz Olympique 47-7 in the opening game of the two-day tournament.

But the final between the two sides, who both play in the Super Rugby competition, went down to the wire as Blues captain Piri Weepu admitted that the faster-paced nature of the 10-a-side format used in the tournament took its toll on his team, who are more accustomed to playing 15-a-side matches.

"A lot of teams, including us, don't know the format of this tournament and had to try and adapt from the first day," said Weepu, a 2011 Rugby World Cup winner with the All Blacks.

"At the end, both teams were fighting right down to the final minute, and we were lucky enough to nick this at the end."

Added Brumbies captain Robbie Coleman: "A few bounces of the ball went their way... and they capitalised on it.

"We were a bit unlucky on the day but that's the beauty of rugby. I couldn't be prouder of my boys."

While the action in the evening final gripped the 10,888-strong crowd, they were stunned earlier by what looked like a neck injury to Owen Williams, a centre with the Cardiff Blues, during his side's third-place play-off with the Asia Pacific Dragons, which the latter won 26-17.

He was stretchered off the pitch and sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. His condition was unknown at press time.

The unfortunate incident, however, was not enough to sully the tournament that was labelled a success by organisers Carinat Sports Marketing.

"There's been some fantastic rugby on display, which is the key," said Carinat managing director Jon Phelps.

He added that Carinat hopes to organise the next edition in July next year, while also exploring the possibility of bringing in teams from as far away as South Africa.

Low Teo Ping, president of the Singapore Rugby Union, was also happy with the outcome of what will be remembered as the first sporting event to take place at the Sports Hub's centre-piece.

"A world-class stadium like this deserves to have an event of similar stature so it was a great honour for the rugby community to bring a tournament with world-class stars such as Piri Weepu here," he said.

terong@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on June 23, 2014.
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