Wolf Blass Saigon Rugby 10’s

By: Keely Burkey

Vietnam and rugby? This combination might have sounded strange a few years ago. Although this tough sport gained serious ground in countries like Singapore and Hong Kong, people in Vietnam have traditionally favoured sports like football. However, since the Al Frescos Group’s (AFG’s) Saigon Rugby 10’s hit the turf of RMIT’s rugby pitch in 2015 this has all begun to change.

So what spurred this on? Al Fresco’s National Marketing Manager Peter Holdsworth told us that after looking at the huge rugby culture in Hong Kong, where AFG works with its partner Castello Group, the idea was hatched to see if a Hong Kong-style rugby tournament could do well in Vietnam.

rugbyImage source: flickr.com

“We decided that it was about time that something kind of fun and interactive [happened] in Vietnam,” Holdsworth recalled.

With the help of some international sponsors and a lot of ingenious hospitality planning, six rugby teams landed at Tan Son Nhat Airport for a weekend of rugby and, of course, a bit of beer after the matches. The event was such a success that organising an event the following year was a no-brainer, when 16 teams signed up to play.

And this year? A whopping 32 teams, divided into three competitive categories, will be heading to Saigon to battle it out for the top spots in the 2017 Wolf Blass Saigon Rugby 10’s.

rugbyImage source: citypassguide

A Different Kind of Rugby

With such a dramatic growth over the past three years, it’s apparent that the organisers of the Saigon Rugby 10’s has hit upon a winning formula. Rather than the typical rugby tournament with the audience simply watching, Holdsworth pointed out that AFG is, at its heart, a hospitality group.

“We wanted to package the whole event. So it’s not just about the rugby, but also the whole party aspect, and it just being a fun time,” he said. And this party aspect doesn’t just stop with the rugby players after the matches: at Wolf Blass Saigon Rugby 10’s, everybody can join in on the fun.

rugbyImage source: flickr.com

Over the course of this September weekend, RMIT will be taken over by rugby mania, and watching the international rugby teams duking it out on the fields will just be one source of entertainment.

Holdsworth described the events that will take place at the tournament, and the list is long: a huge, 1,000-square-metre hospitality tent that will house food, drinks and merchandise, available when you buy a voucher booklet; a large kids’ zone, where the little ones can tear around and learn to play rugby (safely, of course!); and a kids’ clinic in which ex-international rugby players play with disadvantaged children; and dance performances throughout the day by the “Sugar Bears”, the official cheerleaders of the event. This rugby 10’s tournament has been expertly designed to provide something for everyone, not just Saigon’s die-hard rugby fans.

“It’s just a fun day out,” Holdsworth explained. “People can come and enjoy, have a few drinks, have some food. The kids are safe – it’s a safe environment. There aren’t many places you can do that in Saigon, where kids can just tear around.”

Go Geckos!

When you and your family enjoy the weekend at RMIT, be sure to watch out for HCMC’s own rugby team, the Saigon Geckos. Although they haven’t brought home a Saigon 10’s rugby trophy yet, rumour has it they’ve been working hard to represent Saigon better than ever this year.

rugbyImage source: flickr.com

“They really want to win it this year,” Holdsworth mused. “They have 55 players on the books!”

So when you get to the rugby pitch, be sure to cheer on our Geckos – let’s help them bring a trophy home.


15-17 September, 2017 | RMIT University, 702 Nguyen Van Linh, District 7

Free Admission | www.saigon10s.vn

Banner image source: flickr.com

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