7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
The Heineken 10s will see over 3500 amateur rugby players battling it out at local rugby clubs up and down the country. It promises to be hugely entertaining, enjoyable and social for those involved, and a relaxing day out for those coming down to watch.
There are 16 festivals planned around the country and whilst the environment is sure to be relaxed, there are bound to be a lot of players getting involved, remembering why they started playing the game. Irrespective of the result, it's all about having a lot of fun and enjoying a social day of rugby, both off and on the field!
A thriving rugby scene at grass roots level is also an absolute must for a successful England team and the key demographic of players between 18 and 30 who will be involved in the Heineken 10s are often those lost to the game, distracted by a wife, kids, work and other commitments.
The link from the Heineken 10s at the lower end to the elite end of the game is closer than you think. Take the England 2003 World Cup winning team, the Wales Grand Slam team or the Munster side who won the Heineken Cup in 2008, all are made up of young men and lads who started at a junior club - which is where the Heineken 10s represents such a fantastic initiative. And for those playing in the Heineken 10s, the tournament will feel exactly like their own 'World Cup'.
People always think I'm making it up but the changing rooms up and down the country in the Heineken 10s will be no different to what it was like in 2003. The physiques and the talent may be slightly different, but the social make up of the teams will be exactly the same. There were the jokers, the I-pod listeners, The Clash listeners, the Take That listeners, the blokes with their towel s over their heads, the guys out there warming up almost before you've arrived and so on and so forth. Pre match routines will be similar too - guys who don't like warming up until the last possible moment, those who put left shoe on first, those with lucky pants, lucky T -shirts and all the other superstitions that I encountered throughout my career.
From my days playing for Preston Grasshoppers all the way to the pinnacle of the sport, it's always been that way. Often the best sides aren't those which involve a tremendous amount of rocket science, just a bunch of mates who play together, enjoy the game and like to be successful.
I've played 10s a bit and it's a fantastic format of the game, something a little bit different which will be new to a lot of people. It's not quite as open as 7s when the props and slower guys run for the trees, but not as slow as 15s when wingers can sometimes see very little of the ball. It's a great mixture for all to get involved with and is sure to be a tremendous success at all the rugby clubs up this autumn.
So ahead of the more serious business of Premierships, Heineken Cups and full blooded internationals over the next 9 months, the Heineken 10s promises to be an exciting way to kick off the new season.