Rugby10s Champs CEO Andreea Trufasu – A Game Changer and a True Visionary 

The Rugby Tens Championship is a fast-paced international 10s rugby competition, and CEO and co-founder Andreea Trufasu is bringing it to Cape Town on 18 November, 2023! Photo: Supplied

Former Romanian Swimmer Andreea Trufasu and CEO and co-founder of one of the most, if not the most, inclusive competitions in the world of sport, the Rugby Tens Championship, and she’s bringing it to Cape Town next weekend! 

After she asked the now defunct “World 10s Series” to include a women’s division to the competition and the response was an unsatisfactory “Maybe in five years,” Trufasu and her husband, Derek Nellmapius, took that answer as an opportunity to establish a competition that will have equality and inclusivity as its primary driving factor. 

Trufasu elaborates on how this dynamic tournament works: “The Rugby Tens Championship is a fast-paced international 10s rugby competition. What makes it unique across all sports is that it brings together franchises with 4 teams each (men’s, women’s, under-18 boys and girls) competing for the overall Franchise Cup Trophy, at the same time, at the same venues, with the same number of points relative to rankings.”

Through this competition audiences get to experience and support their franchises and at the same time spurring on the growth of women’s rugby. “Initiatives like R10C, having under-18 girls and women’s teams alongside men’s sides in the competition promotes gender equality in sport, mutual respect and recognition for each other’s efforts and achievements, and inspires the next generation of female rugby players. 

It sends a powerful message that rugby, and sport, is for everyone, regardless of gender, and everyone deserves equitable resources.”

As the world seeks to find innovative ways to develop and advance women’s sport, we should take inspiration from this ground-breaking format.  

With South Africa gearing up to host the 3rd edition of the R10C in Cape Town on 18, 22 and 25 November, gsport writer Lonwabo Nkohla, digs deep into the visionary that is Andreea Trufasu and the brand R10C.

What inspired you to establish the Rugby Tens Championship?

The concept for the Rugby Tens Championship was born when I asked the “World 10s Series” (now a defunct rugby competition) to add a women’s division to the competition, and their response was, reluctantly, “maybe in 5 years”. 

That motivated me to make a change, and inspired myself and Derek, my husband, to create an inclusive international rugby competition that would showcase the sport in a unique way. We wanted to provide a platform where teams of all genders, professional and youth, with players and coaches of different backgrounds, could come together and compete at the highest level while fostering a sense of community and sportsmanship.

For someone that has never heard about this competition, could you briefly explain how it works and what makes it unique?

The Rugby Tens Championship is a fast-paced international 10s rugby competition. What makes it unique across all sports is that it brings together franchises with 4 teams each (men’s, women’s, under-18 boys and girls) competing for the overall Franchise Cup Trophy, at the same time, at the same venues, with the same number of points relative to rankings. 

It offers a blend of high-intensity rugby 10s competition and an inclusive atmosphere that welcomes players and coaches from over 20 countries, representing Tier 1, 2 and 3 rugby nations. Teams compete in quick 20-minute matches with 10-players-a-side, making it an action-packed, lots of space, offloads and tries event for both players and spectators. 

How has the world responded to this new and exciting format of Rugby?

It’s been overwhelmingly positive, quite honestly exceeding our expectations! We’ve seen a growing global interest in the Rugby Tens Championship, with applicants from all over the world tripling in numbers year over year. We have Olympians and World Cup players, National Teams players, all looking to get a spot in one of the international franchises. It’s also a very nice compliment when elite World Cup broadcast commentators really want to be part of it. It has definitely created a buzz in the rugby world and has been well-received by everyone, including fans.

Equality and Inclusivity are two words that encapsulate the spirit of the tournament, why is this important for you?

Equality and inclusivity are at the core of Rugby Tens Championship. It’s important for us to provide opportunities for everyone to equally showcase themselves on the world stage, breaking down gender, background, and other barriers. We believe that diversity is a strength. It’s crucial to create an environment where all players and coaches feel valued, and that fosters mutual respect.

When you bring people from over 20 countries, various backgrounds, and various ages, who compete equally for the same trophy as a franchise, there is an amazing sense of “Ubuntu” that is created. 

What is the value of creating a tournament that sees young girls and women’s teams feature in a tournament alongside their men’s side?

Having under-18 girls and women’s teams alongside men’s sides in the competition promotes gender equality in sport, mutual respect and recognition for each other’s efforts and achievements, and inspires the next generation of female rugby players. It sends a powerful message that rugby, and sport, is for everyone, regardless of gender, and everyone deserves equitable resources.

This format is also a spectators’ dream as they get to watch all the teams from their chosen franchise play Rugby in one tournament, are girls’ and women’s games well supported?

Yes, R10C format is designed to bring an all-around rugby experience for spectators. The women and girls’ games are played in the same venues, alternating time slots with men and boys, game by game. They have the same resources allocated to them as for men and boys.

In addition, we are launching mixed-play, a world premiere in sports where men and women, and boys and girls respectively, compete as a team in the same match, just different halves. 

The women’s and girls’ games have garnered strong support from global fans who appreciate the high level of competition. It’s fantastic to see fans turning out to support all the teams in the tournament.

Coaches also benefit from this initiative, are you seeing a lot of female coaches come through the ranks?

Indeed, our initiative has helped create more opportunities for female coaches. We’ve seen a rise in the number of talented female coaches emerging, and we actively encourage and support their involvement in the sport. We strongly believe in knowledge-sharing between men and women coaches, and we intentionally foster a collaborative environment for this purpose.

It’s important to have diverse perspectives on the coaching staff to further enhance the quality of rugby and identify initiatives to promote equality and inclusivity.

As CEO and Co-founder of R10C, what have been some of the rewarding moments as you watch this brand and competition grow?

I’d say the most rewarding moment thus far for me was when we brought in deaf players from the Dominican School and De La Bat School, to play an exhibition rugby match in 2022 in Cape Town. I pick this moment because it is when it really sunk in for me that equality is needed not just between men and women, it is needed at all kinds of levels. 

The emotion that those kids had when entering the world stage was overwhelming. What it meant for them was incredible. It has stayed with me, and it is a continuous motivator, as well as a reminder to look beyond the obvious for equality opportunities and needs.

The progress of women and girls in rugby, and the progress of Tier 2 and Tier 3 players and the success of the tournament brings a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Being a female in your position probably comes with its fair share of challenges, what are some of the obstacles you encounter? 

Unsurprisingly, not being taken seriously at first, including in meetings. It’s a feeling that I have had to purposefully ignore in various situations and move forward. Being a female CEO in the sports industry does present some unique challenges. 

Gender bias and stereotypes can still be prevalent. Working around these challenges takes a fair bit of resilience, and a strong support network of both women and men, which I am blessed to have. Times have definitely progressed, and one must also recognise that. 

Many women aspire to achieve the success that you have in your glowing career, what pearls of wisdom can you share with sisters hoping to one day get to an office similar to yours? 

Choose a vision that you strongly believe in. The rest comes easier if you find that vision. Surround yourself with a supportive network and mentors who can guide you. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo and be a trailblazer. Stay true to your values, especially when it is tempting not to. Never stop learning and growing. 

And, very importantly, remember that support comes from both women and men. 

The R10C is coming to Cape Town, what can spectators look forward to?

The R10C coming to Cape Town is an exciting prospect. Spectators can look forward to an electrifying rugby experience featuring top players and coaches from around the world from both men and women’s rugby. 

Sevens specialist and most capped Blitzbok of all-time, Branco du Preez will ply his trade at the Rhinos, while Frankie Horne takes the reins and will share his experience as General Manager and Head Coach at the Serengeti Elephants.

Lwazi Mvovo will don the colours of the Cape Town Wild Dogs, while Jongi Nokwe and Braam van Straaten will coach the Balkans Honey Badgers and San Clemente Rhinos respectively. 

Sevens players from around the world will also be in action, which includes players that have represented their country at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and on the HSBC 7s Series. There are also a number of 15s players who have represented their country on the global stage.

Shona-Leah Weston and Nomsa Mokwai (Wild Dogs), Voice Ndou (Elephants), and Sisanda Ndlela (Honey Badgers) have all represented South Africa in international matches while there is a healthy contingent of other international stars who have represented Kenya, Ireland, USA, Australia, Scotland, England, Canada, Jamaica, Mexico and more.

The Wild Dogs will feature Joanah Ngan-Woo, who has won the Women’s World Cup with the Black Ferns in 2021. Ndou is joined at the Elephants by Judith Okumu, Stellah Wafula, Christabel Lindo, Grace Okulu (all four are Olympians) and Renee Gonzalez (Canada 7s and 15s).

And that’s just to mention a few. 

We’re creating a festive atmosphere at the Charles Morkel Stadium and we’re inviting everyone to join us for three days of very exciting rugby.  What better way to kick off the festive season!


Main Photo Caption: The Rugby Tens Championship is a fast-paced international 10s rugby competition, and CEO and co-founder Andreea Trufasu is bringing it to Cape Town on 18 November, 2023! Photo: Supplied

Photo 2 Caption: It is the inclusivity aspect makes the tournament unique across all sports is that it brings together franchises with 4 teams each (men’s, women’s, under-18 boys and girls) competing for the overall Franchise Cup Trophy, at the same time, at the same venues, with the same number of points relative to rankings. Photo: Supplied

Photo 3 Caption: “Equality and inclusivity are at the core of Rugby Tens Championship,” says Trufasu. “It’s important for us to provide opportunities for everyone to equally showcase themselves on the world stage, breaking down gender, background, and other barriers.” Photo: Supplied

Photo 4 Caption: “We believe that diversity is a strength. It’s crucial to create an environment where all players and coaches feel valued, and that fosters mutual respect.” Photo: Supplied

Photo 5 Caption: What can spectators expect? “The R10C coming to Cape Town is an exciting prospect,” says Trufasu. “Spectators can look forward to an electrifying rugby experience featuring top players and coaches from around the world from both men and women’s rugby.” Photo: Supplied

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