Why Rugby 11’s?

Colombo 11’s International Rugby Tournament 2024


The rugby 11’s format is ideal as a stepping stone, from 7’s to 15’s. (10s being a larger version of 7’s). It is a perfect tool for rugby development in areas that struggle to get a squad of 25-30 players to play 15’s.

Having six (6) forwards engaged in scrummaging with the No. 8 able to pick up the ball from the back of the scrum and go, makes this shorter version of the game an exciting option, opening up a range of different on-field opportunities.

Cutting out reset scrums and having 30-second time limits on forming lineouts, scrums, taking kicks, etc., speeds up the game and ensures more on-field action

With agility, speed and technique, 11s rugby will give Asian players a greater chance to compete with more established Rugby nations as the format grows and international games develop in the near future.

The tournament matches are 2 x 7-minute halves where possible and can be adjusted as organisers deem fit. For leagues & Internationals, the timings are 4 x 11-minute quarters.

Rugby 11’s kicked off in 2023, with the Inaugural, Dimbulla Phuket International Rugby 11’s, held in June. There were 36 teams from 13 countries who took part. This was followed by the world’s first Rugby 11’s league in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from August to November. All matches were played at the same venue to generate a fun atmosphere and camaraderie between the teams. It also made logistics & live-streaming easier. The end-of-season Dimbulla Chiang Mai International Rugby 11’s Tournament was held at the end of November.

Those three events were a trial run to see how teams would react and to tweak the laws more towards what worked and what didn’t. The reaction from all teams who competed in the tournaments and the league was very positive, generating a particular buzz around the concept. In Chiang Mai, it has re- engaged the local Thai community, and there are now more Thai players playing and getting involved, at all ages.

At present, we are engaging Men’s & Women’s Open and Men’s vets Over 40s at all tournaments. We will begin bringing in youth teams, with the introduction of the Under 20s, into the Colombo 2024 tournament.

On 15 September 23, Saitama Wild knights played North Canterbury, to showcase 11’s rugby in Japan.

The players love it. It is an excellent development tool for countries new to rugby, as well as for established ones. It gives coaches many more options & challenges to consider.

All indications are that this is the beginning of a rugby revolution, much the same as 7’s was when it came along.

The coaching values of 11’s rugby. (Mike Penistone.)

“Traditionally, if you deny time and space, you can frustrate most attacks.” Coaching issues.

•         By reducing the number of defenders, the value of time and space is minimised.

•         Players can identify more attacking space.

•         Instinctive play is more likely because the defensive threat is not close at hand.

•         Players have more time to create and execute personal attacking skills as well as preconceived attacking plays.

•         Running is more likely than kicking.

•         Kicking for fast attackers can be effective as there is more space to target.

•         By adding a number 8 (6th forward) there is scope for more creativity and the return of back-row moves.

•         Tackling technique becomes more important. Can you tackle one-on-one in space?

•         Passing from a lower body tackle becomes a practised skill.

•         11’s develops courage and a “have a go” mentality because there is space to run into

•         Pre-season fitness programs need re-designing to cope with the additional running.

•         All players will need to be mobile!

•         Ball into contact technique has got to produce quick ball.

•         Players will have the opportunity to play in different positions.

•         Coaches will have to consider blending a squad of players together rather than just selecting them.

•         Replacements and substitutions will need more consideration.

•         Communication in defence will need greater consideration.

•         Up hold and drift, as well as conceding space when defending against more attackers, will need to be understood.

•         Games can be won from your own line, if you have the courage, fitness, support, and speed to have a go.