IT’S that time of the year again when rugby players of all shapes, ages and sizes fly in from all over Asia, Oceania and the United Kingdom to converge on a 100-meter patch of grass to compete side by side their Filipino counterparts over a weekend of fun and social 10-a-side rugby.
The now named Manila 10s International Rugbly Festival will be held on March 24 and 25, which coincidentally were the same dates that launched this rugby festival 30 years ago in 1989.
Presented by the Nomads Rugby, The Manila 10s was the first-ever rugby tournament held in the Philippines and is dubbed by ESPN as the best social rugby tournament in the world.
The tournament has come a long way since it was first held in 1989 at the Nomad Sports Club in Merville Park, Parañaque, where then Club president Albert Robert put out a directive for all the sports sections to hold a special event to celebrate their 75th anniversary.
The tournament started as a way for the local, and then only, rugby club in the country, the Manila Nomads to play rugby at a competitive level without having to tour regularly. The first tournament featured five teams playing in a one-day tournament, but the popularity of the tournament quickly grew the competition to 16 teams playing across two days.
Today, it is still the premier rugby tournament in the country, launched on Wednesday at the Cafe Curieux in Bel-Air Makati.
Manila 10s is held one week before Hong Kong Sevens every year, allowing clubs from around the world to participate in the tournament prior to watching Hong Kong Sevens.
The 2018 Manila 10s will feature 26 teams in 4 divisions of varying skill levels (Cup, Plate, Bowl, and Shield) as well as a separate veteran’s division for teams fielding only players over 35.
It also sees itself back at the San Lazaro Leisure Park—a multi-purpose venue in Carmona, Cavite, featuring a racetrack and casino. It is also the home of the Manila Jockey Club.
Entrance to San Lazaro Leisure Park is Free and open to the public. Food, drinks and official M10s Merchandise will be available for sale at the Park.
As the Manila 10s grew, so did the cost of organizing it. In the first few years, funding came from entrance fees and members of the rugby playing community through their companies and hospitality establishments.
And as it grew even more and became more properly organized, it eventually evolved into a more family-oriented event, thus gaining support from rugby enthusiasts and corporations in the logistics, portfolio management, banking, mining, engineering and project management, construction, retail, shipping, real estate management, and airline industries with as many as 36 teams participating. It is an ideal venue for networking, entertaining clients, courting potential ones and reuniting with old friends in a casual, fun and friendly atmosphere. The M10s has also been graced by a number of international professionals and top-level club teams so occasionally the rugby was interesting to watch too.
In 2016, the M10s was held on the Merville Park grounds for the last time as the Nomad Sports Club lost a legal battle for the rights to the land it had occupied since 1969. Last year, thanks to the Reyno Family, it found a new home at the San Lazaro Leisure Park of the Manila Jockey Club in Carmona, Cavite.