Nick Briant: Brisbane 10s Recap     29 Mar 2018    

Jamie Nutbrown and I joined Shu (Japan), Tevita (Fiji), along with Damon Murphy and Jordy Way from Australia as the ref team.

It was a good bunch of guys all who I’d either worked with or spent time with in the past. 

The teams were mainly NZ and Aussie super rugby squads, missing their international players, as well as Pau (France), Panasonic (Japan) and a Fijian side. 

The crowds weren’t huge, but Queenslanders are always passionate, especially when their Reds play, so there was a pretty good atmosphere throughout.

I found refereeing this level of 10s quite a unique experience. I’d previously ref’d a few local club 10s tournaments over the years where the game is played much like traditional 7s; very up-tempo. 

This is how the early games in the tournament played out and it proved to be particularly challenging given temperatures were over 35 degrees. 

My first game in the middle was between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders and I had to work really hard physically as they threw the ball all over the park.

It was a cracking match where the Landers nearly scored to snatch the win in the final moments, only to have the try erased after a TMO referral.

As the tournament progressed the style of rugby changed to become more confrontational, which made it easier to referee from a physical point of view, but more challenging technically due to more breakdowns which were fiercely contested.

During the tournament we each ref’d and ran touch a couple of times per day, as well as getting a crack as a TMO.

It has been a long time since I’d TMO’d as it’s been a specialist job for a few years now in 15s, so its fair to say I was far more nervous than being in the middle! As it turned out I didn’t have to make any calls in the box.

I had the privilege to ref the final between the Blues and the Hurricanes which was a tight and physical affair. 

The structure of the tournament meant that the Canes had to play 3 games inside about 4 hours (QF, SF and final). They would be forgiven for being a bit tired. 

In spite of this the Hurricanes really got stuck in, as did the Blues who hadn’t contested all that hard at the breakdown throughout the tournament but decided to tear into it in the final. 

The game wasn’t an open affair, perhaps due to the rain which fell during the semi-finals.

In the end it came down to a piece of individual brilliance from George Moala who, after time, expired managed to take the ball into a tackle, release the ball before getting back up to regather and score.

The 10s was a really fun tournament to be part of and useful in the lead up to Super Rugby. 

I found it to be a good platform to brush up on my breakdown work, which was a highly contestable phase. 10s is quite an interesting format and it was nice to try something a bit different.