The 6 Resorts Tournament in the French Alps: What do pro rugby players do during the 6 Nations Tournament break? – Meanderings through France
Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Created 3 years ago as an initiative of Yann Delaigne a former international rugby player The 6 Resorts Tournament is a tournament that obviously doesn’t mean to be taken too seriously! A few years ago Yann Delaigne was on skiing holidays and it occurred to him that winter sports and rugby shared many common values such as solidarity, team spirit, friendliness, taste for making an effort, respect and zest for life. To this imaginative sportsman who already created a few years ago beach rugby tournaments on the French Riviera it only came as natural to play rugby on snow and share the game with other pro and amateur rugby players.
Six ski resorts of the French Alps La Clusaz, Saint Gervais, Morillon, Valmorel, Val Thorens and Les Menuires located in Savoie and Haute Savoie, 2 mountainous neighbouring departments decided to get together to give life to this unusual project. It was an instant success and famous international rugby players as well as mere amateurs were enthusiastic about it. Each resort has its own team putting together 4 pros and 2 amateurs and for 6 days there are rugby matches and skiing races taking place in a different resort every day. For these amateurs it’s a unique opportunity to meet their favourite players and share intense moments on and out the rugby field!
This year the tournament will last from February the 16th till February the 22nd and the 24 pros will compete for the ski resorts they have been chosen for. Among them Marc Lievremont, Serge Betsen, Christophe Dominici, Christian Califano and Olivier Magne will wave the French flag, Colin Charvis and Shane Williams the Welsh one, Trevor Brenan the Irish one, Iain Balshaw and Paul Sackey the English one…
Every afternoon from 2 till 5 pm any tourist of the resort will be able to get a free introduction to snow rugby by Brian Liebenberg the French rugby player born in South Africa using a ball that he specifically created to play snow rugby. And by 3 pm serious business begins! Two by two the players of the different teams will dash on a ski run holding a rugby ball instead of ski sticks and they will have to be first to tackle it behind the finish line as if making a touchdown, to win the race. The winners get 2 points ahead for the rugby matches. The rugby matches will begin at 6 pm: everyday three 16 minutes matches will pit the teams one against the others: slides, falls and tackles guaranteed! No need to say that the “third-half” will give anyone staying in the resorts to join the players for exciting and joyful moments. Time for party!
In the same time many activities will be offered to the public. There will be ski cross races in “Les Menuires”: 4 racers on skis or snowboards compete on a bumpy ski run. In Val Thorens you will be able to slide on the longest toboggan run in France. The “Ross on Tour” will follow the tournament in each resort. “Rossignol” is a French ski equipment manufacturer and tourists will be able to try for free new skis and snowboards and even be lucky enough to win a pair of skis.
Once again those 6 ski resorts intend to make your holidays as memorable as can be mixing sport and fun. Snow is heavily falling in the Alps for a few days now and should keep on falling for the next 10 days so everything will be ready to welcome winter sports lovers!
Events programme: 2/16: La Clusaz
2/17: Saint Gervais
2/20: Val Thorens
2/22: Les Menuires for the final
For more information: www.tournoides6stations.fr
Text © Annick Dournes
Photos by T.Bismuth-Mediatome, courtesy of ” Tournoi des 6 Stations” Organisation.