The Bloemfontein based side are the current reigning Currie Cup Champions from South Africa having put on some stunning displays in 2016 maintaining a 100% record in the Division log, and then defeating the Lions 55-17 in the Semi Finals, and the Blue Bulls 36-16 in the Final.
It was their 5th title.
The Cheetahs are a very well supported team across the Free State, as well as having large fans bases in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria. They are also known as the darlings of South African rugby, with many other South African rugby fans adopting them as their second team especially when they take on any of the other “Big 5” teams.
The Cheetahs have been a mainstay in Super Rugby since 2006 and had many great Springboks wearing the famous orange jersey with the likes of Os du Randt, Andre Venter, Brendan Venter, Heinrich Brussow. Wille Le Roux, and recent Boks captain Adriaan Strauss.
“Like the sun rises in the east, pride rises in the west.”
The defending Champions, Western Force return to Mauritius having defeated the Brumbies in the final in 2016.
One of two teams admitted into the expanded Super 14 in 2006, Prior to the announcement, more than 25,500 Western Australians signed a petition in support of their state’s bid.
Since then the Force have been consistently competitive without yet breaking through to challenge for the title.
On the back of a dismal 2012 Super Rugby season, the RugbyWA Board initiated significant change to turn around the fortunes of the club.
Former World Cup-winning Wallaby Michael Foley was appointed Head Coach from the Waratahs for the 2013 season, and substantial investment was made in recruitment to begin to shape a team that would begin the rise up the Super Rugby ranks.
The club’s home ground at nib Stadium underwent considerable renovation with the towering Eastern Grandstand providing an imposing venue for visiting sides and giving an improved and deserved new home for the club’s loyal and fanatical ‘Sea of Blue’.
With a new strategic direction, a new recruitment model targeting home-grown talent and a decisive shift away from the limited east coast player pool, the Western Force recorded the club’s most successful season in Super Rugby in 2014. The team won the most matches in the club’s history (9),
The season also featured Matt Hodgson, who won the club’s Nathan Sharpe Medal, become the first player to reach 100 matches for the club.
The “APDs” will change its regular name of the Asia Pacific Dragons to the AFRICA PACIFIC DRAGONS for the Tournament again.
This is in recognition to showcase some talent from Africa, such as Kenyan 7s speedster Billy Odhaimbo in 2016.
But the change of name will not alter the APDs approach and unique Pacific style of rugby.
The APDs (as they have become known by the players), was founded in 2011 as the dream team combination of players from the Pacific Islands (and with heritage), and players from Asia.
The team has achieved significant success brushing aside some major competitions. Having defeated Saracens in Hong Kong for the Chartis Cup, they won the Cup competition of the HK10s in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
They also Won the Singapore 7s Cup in 2014. They came 3rd in the in the Inaugural World Club 10s in Singapore, and 5th in 2016 in Mauritius.
Some of the greatest names in Pacific Islands rugby have been part of the APD Family, including former All Blacks, Tana Umaga, Justin Marshall, Carl Hayman, Christian Cullen, Jimmy Cowen, Steve Brett, Jerry Collins, Rico Gear and Isaac Ross; Australians George Smith, George Gregan and Radike Samo; Fijian superstars Rupeni Caucaunibuca, Sireli Bobo, Seru Rabeni, Osea Kolinisau (7s Olympic Gold captain); Samoan stars Alesana Tuilagi, Seilala Mapusua and Tusi Pisi; and Tongan RWC stars Nili Latu and Hale T-Pole.
Harlequins have a rich heritage in rugby in this country and abroad. For almost a century and a half the club has contributed generously to the development of the game both on and off the pitch. On the pitch Harlequins’ players have performed with distinction not just for England but also for other nations; in the process bringing honour on themselves and the club.
The club has a reputation for producing and attracting players who have been innovators, for example, Ronnie Poulton-Palmer, Adrian Stoop and William Wavell Wakefield in the first quarter of the 20th Century. Between them they contributed to the club being associated with an attractive style of rugby.
Their legacy continues to the present – over a century later the current generation of players are taking that style to new levels. Off the pitch the club has also made a notable contribution to the governance of the game through the Rugby Football Union. Harlequins has already provided eleven Presidents of the RFU, a tradition that is set to continue with 2003 Rugby World Cup winner and former Harlequins prop forward Jason Leonard taking over as President of the Union later this year.
The club’s influence extends beyond this country via a network of affiliate clubs around the world. They include Harlequins Pretoria, Kenya Harlequins, Harlequins Melbourne and Dallas Harlequins among others. These clubs have added to Harlequins heritage not just through name association but also through their adoption of the club’s style of play.
2016/2017 Season sees Harlequins celebrate its 150th anniversary.
The Plus500 Brumbies were included in Super 12 in 1996 and under the guidance of George Gregan and Stephen Larkham made an immediate impact.
In their first season the Brumbies finished fifth, and the next year, 1997, they came second, only losing out to the Jonah Lomu-inspired Blues in the final.
2001 saw the ACT Brumbies win the Super 12 Championship against the Sharks from South Africa and become the first team outside New Zealand to win the competition. The Brumbies hosted the Crusaders in the 2004 Super 12 Final, winning the championship in emphatic style 47-38 in front of a record crowd of 28,753 at Canberra Stadium.
The post-Gregan/Larkham years didn’t deliver the same levels of success, however the Brumbies don’t tend to stay down long. In fact, in 21 years of Super Rugby they have had a positive win loss ratio in every season except for 4 – and they have appeared in the Super Rugby playoffs in each of the last four years, and regularly the top-performing Australian team in Super Rugby.
The Vodacom Bulls from Pretoria, are a renowned global rugby superpower, and South Africa’s most successful Super Rugby team.
At Super Rugby level, the Bulls are three-time champions, having claimed the title in 2007, 2009 and 2010. In all three of those title runs the Bulls topped the ladder and proved unbeatable during finals matches at the Loftus Versfeld stronghold.
They originally competed as Northern Transvaal when the Super 10 was launched in 1993, and have remained a permanent member, and becoming the Bulls in 1998.
The Blue Bulls have won the Currie Cup 23 times, and were defeated in the 2016 Final by the Cheetahs.
Legendary Springboks of the past have included Naas Botha (still the club’s all-time leading scorer with 2511 points), Uli Schmidt, Frik du Preez, and modern day greats such as Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Joost van der Westhuizen.
The current Super Rugby squad boasts some of the best talent in South Africa, Lood de Jager, Handre Pollard and Jesse Kriel.
With size and power up front and speed to burn out wide, the Blue Bulls will be perfectly suited to the 10-man game.
The Pyrenees Rugby Seven was founded in 2003, as a group of players assembled to play the Dubai 7s. The first squad was predominantly players from the South West region of France.
From 2006 the Club expanded its event roster competing in Rome, Hong Kong and Singapore, and since the early days there have now been over 500 players who have represented the PR7 jersey, coming from Clubs all across France.
The club is also committed to social projects, fielding mentally handicapped players in the Dubai event, giving equipment to local amateur clubs and supporting charity organizations.
The Squad for the World Club 10s will be captained by French International Legend, Imanol Harinoroduy, and will feature top class players from Top14 Clubs.
The Kubota Spears is the rugby team of Kubota Corporation from Funabashi in Japan. The team was founded in 1978, and have been a regular part of Japan’s Top League since 2003.
They have a strong South African Super Rugby influence with Head Coach Frans Ludeke a former Cats, Lions and Bulls Head Coach, and their current Squad includes players such as Lappies Labushagne, Grant Hattingh, Patirck Osborne, Jaco Kriel . Louis Fouche, and Japanese International Justin Ives, and Japan 7s Internationals Lote Tuqiri and Kazuhiro Goya.
Japanese stars, Daisuke Inoue and Harumichi Tatekawa (current Japan National team Captain), also play for Japan’s Super Rugby team, the Sunwolves.
And the combination could bring a major surprise to the World Club 10s Tournament this year, and the new team culture being developed under Ludeke and his coaching team are ensuring Kubota Spears will build to become Top League title contenders very soon.