The Western Force pulled off a remarkable 7-0 win over the ACT Brumbies tonight to be crowned World Club 10s Champions at Anjalay Stadium in Mauritius with Nedlands star Michael Ruru named player of the tournament.
The Brumbies dominated possession and territory for large portions of the match but herculean defence from the young Western Force team saw the Western Australian’s hold their Australian counterparts scoreless to secure a thrilling victory.
The Force made the most of their limited time with ball in hand with Brad Lacey’s early second half try proving the decisive score.
Western Force captain Kane Koteka said he was proud of his side and the belief they showed.
“It’s amazing to win, especially against a star-studded Brumbies team. We came in as underdogs and we didn’t mind that tag,” said Koteka.
“We had a lot of belief in our own group and we never thought we were underdogs ourselves. We just played our own game and it came off. They were the favourites for the tournament and here was a lot of pressure on them. To go down must be pretty heartbreaking for them, but we’re just happy to get the win.”
After overcoming the Italian All Stars 29-0 in a high paced encounter in the semi final just hours earlier the Western Force found themselves on the defensive from the outset with the physical Brumbies side coming out hard.
The Brumbies spent most the first half camped in the Western Force half only to come up empty handed with the Western Force’s defensive systems and tireless work at the breakdown forcing multiple turnovers.
Locked at 0-0 heading into the halftime break head coach Dwayne Nestor gave his side some words of wisdom and inspiration going into the final 10 minutes of the tournament.
Spurred on by the words of Nestor the Force came out firing after the break and on their first meaningful possession of the second stanza Ammon Matuauto broke the line before offloading to Michael Ruru who found Brad Lacey and the speedster crossed for the first and only try of the match.
Ruru calmly slotted the extras to put the Force up by seven with eight minutes to play.
The Brumbies threw everything they had at the Force in the final minutes but the Western Australians held strong to once again force turnovers in the final third thanks to the work the Oliver Hoskins and Riley Winter.
With just 60 second’s on the clock the Brumbies attempted to go 90-metres to level the scores only to knock on just 10 metres from the line.
As the final siren sounded the Western Force survived multiple scrum resets before Angus Taylor flung the ball back to Ruru who booted it into the stands and finalise the Force’s victory thrilling 7-0 victory and right to call themselves World Club 10s Champions.
CELL C SHARKS
The Cell C Sharks, the four-time Super Rugby finalists who won their seventh Currie Cup title in 2013, are one of South Africa’s most popular sides and the Durban-based franchise can expect strong support in Mauritius, a popular holiday destination for
tourists from South Africa.
Port Louis is just a four-hour flight from Durban. The Cell C Sharks had seven players from their squad represent South Africa at last year’s Rugby World Cup, where the Springboks reached the semi-finals. Of the seven, four are in the franchise’s 2016 squad – Cell C Sharks captain Pat Lambie, wing Lwazi Mvovo and giant props Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen. The team currently have eight other players who have been capped by South Africa, including former captain Keegan Daniel and scrumhalf Michael Claassens, who joined last year after two seasons with Toulon.
Reigning English champions Saracens secured their second Premiership title last season beating Bath 28-16 in the final in front of 80,000 fans at Twickenham.
The ‘Men in Black’ are enjoying a period of unbridled success after a record breaking 2014/15 season in which the north Londoners won six domestic trophies, including a historic league and cup double.
Established in 1876, Saracens are London’s premier rugby club, competing in the Aviva Premiership, the European Champions Cup and the Anglo-Welsh Cup. From humble beginnings, ‘Sarries’ have developed into one of world rugby’s most respected, renowned and recognisable teams.
AFRICA PACIFIC DRAGONS
The APDs is the dream team of Africa Pacific featuring players of residence or origins from Africa and the Pacific Islands.
The APDs, formed in 2011 as the Africa Pacific Barbarians, began life on the pitch as an Invitational rugby team, showcasing some of the best players from Africa and the Pacific. The APDs have already achieved significant success, brushing aside some major competition in their rise. In 2011 they defeated a World XV side to claim the inaugural Chartis Cup, and successfully defended their title in 2012 beating English Premiership Champions Saracens. In other competitions, the APDs won the Hong Kong Football Club Tens in 2012, 2014 & 2015 and in 2014 they came 3rd in the Inaugural World Club 10s behind Super Rugby teams the Blues and Brumbies. Some of the great names who are part of the ‘APD Family” include All Blacks Tana Umaga (as Coach), Carl Hayman, Isaac Ross, Rico Gear, Jerry Collins and Christian Cullen, Australians George Gregan, George Smith and Radike Samo, Fijians Sireli Bobo, Seru Rabeni, Rupeni Caucaunibuca, Samoan stars, Alesana Tuilagi, Henry Tuilagi, Seilala Mapsusua and Tongan RWC stars, Nili Latu and Hale T-Pole.
Toulon have one of the world’s most star-studded squads and will be a huge attraction in Mauritius as they make their World Club 10s debut.
The club won the European Rugby Champions Cup (formerly Heineken Cup) for a third straight time last May and currently boast many of the world’s best-known players. Ma’a Nonu, the two-time World Cup-winning All Black, Wallabies Quade Cooper, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and James O’Connor, South Africa icon Bryan Habana, Ireland legend Paul O’Connell, Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny and Georgia captain Mamuka Gorgodze are among Toulon’s foreign stars that could be in Mauritius in June.
The Aquis Brumbies were part of the inaugural World Club 10s in Singapore where they were beaten in extra time of the final 10-5 by Auckland Blues.
A staple on the Super Rugby circuit, the Brumbies won the title in 2001 and 2004, and reached a further three finals, in 1997, 2000 and 2002. More recently, coached by Australian Rugby World Cup 2003 legend Stephen Larkham, they reached the final in 2013 and semis in both of the last two seasons.
Western Force, or The Force as they are more commonly known are a Super Rugby team based in Perth, Western Australia.
A regular in the Super Rugby league, they are familiar with their World Club 10s counterparts the Cell-C Sharks and Aquis Brumbies. However this will be the first time they have played top quality northern hemisphere teams such as Saracens and Toulon. The Force also played the Asia Pacific Dragon’s in a pre-season match in February, winning 34-26, and will be hoping to repeat this victory at their first appearance at the World Club 10s.
Team Euskadi is a French select team drawn from players of Aviron Bayonnais, Bordeaux and the Basque region.
After only one season in the Pro D2, the Aviron Bayonnais club was promoted back to the Top 14 at the end of this season after defeating the Aurillac club in the final match.
Team Euskadi players: LACROIX Thibault, DUCAT Guillaume, TISSERON Julien, DUPUT Arnaud
ARGANESE Grégory, FUSTER Bastien, GAYRAUD Pierre, JANE Julien (C) , BATTUT Victor, LE BOURHIS Felix, ROUET Guillaume, LAPAYRADE Florian, SEDES Vincent, COURCOUL Simon.
Coach: ETCHETO Vincent.