PETALING JAYA: A total of 16 teams will take part in the 35th Cobra Invitational Rugby 10s at the MPPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya from Sept 11-12.
Thirteen of them are foreign sides and defending champions Red Rock of Fiji and runners-up New Zealand Legends are the main draw cards.
Four foreign teams Mendoza of Argentina, Australian Legends, Te Hiku O Te Ika of New Zealand and the British Army Union of the United Kingdom - will be making their debut.
The local sides in the fray are hosts Cobra Rugby Club, Negri Sembilan Wanderers and Staroba Orange.
Cobra president Datuk Krishnan Tan said at a press conference to announce the title sponsor of the tournament here yesterday: The early favourites for the title are Red Rock.
But we expect it to be a difficult tournament for the defending champions because the other teams from New Zealand, Argentina and Australians will be making strong bids for the title.
Last year, Red Rock, playing in only their first-ever 10-a-side competition, capped a fairy tale run by beating the New Zealand Legends 19-8 in the final.
Besides the New Zealand Legends and Te Hiku O Te Ika, the other Kiwi teams in the fray are North Harbour Northcote Mavericks and New Zealand Universities.
The Malaysians sides are not expected to get far in the tournament.
Home Affairs Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid, who is also the organising chairman, said the gap in standard between the local and foreign teams were too wide and for the Malaysian players it was a long-term measure to expose them and eventually improve their standard of play.
No other Asian country will feature in the tournament. They have opted to play in the Sri Lanka 7s, which is being organised at the same time.
Asian sides who featured in the tournament last year were Taiwan RFU, Singapore Wanderers, Korean Armed Forces and Chinas PLA Sports Institute.
The Cobra 10s this year will also have a tournament for schools featuring eight teams.
The title sponsors of the tournament are Time dotCom Bhd and they will fork out RM250,000.
Unlike in previous years, fans will get to watch the tournament for free.
Foreign: Mendoza (Arg); Australian Legends (Aus); Red Rock (Fij); North Harbour Northcote Mavericks, New Zealand Legends, Te Hiku O Te Ika, New Zealand Universities (Nzl); Marist St Joseph (Sam); Tygerberg College NTK, Natal Duikers (Rsa); Penguins International RF, British Army Rugby Union (Gbr); Pacific Coast Grizzlies (US).
Local: Cobra, NS Wanderers, Staroba Orange.