The Rugby Blog 7s extravaganza hit the Bournemouth event again this year with serious ambitions both on and off the pitch.
A squad was assembled featuring the solid, multi-cap presence of such performers as Jon “the gas” Squire and Oli “the rugby-hater” Smith alongside such new additions as Matt Woods, Jim Backshall and Will Gallagher to name a few. Kit was sourced from Tsunami in a fetching cow-print we knew would be a crowd favourite and 6 months of admin got us all down there, raring to go on Friday night.
As knocked-out Quarter-Finalists from last year’s event we knew we were in with a shout this year if we could remain fit, healthy and motivated throughout a gruelling weekend of rugby, camping and drinking. Unfortunately signs weren’t good initially as shortly after the kit unveiling ceremony a few of the lads got a bit excited about the pear cider which was the only drink available and wound up playing drinking games with dubious forfeits until the early hours.
Nevertheless, the group awoke bleary-eyed and sore-tailed to commence the group stages. Signs were promising as we took an early lead against Old Walcountians RFC and never allowed them into the game to cruise to a comfortable victory. The only sour point was the loss of Joe “rag-doll” Hannaford to a rucking incident that resulted in 5 stitches in his eyelid. Never one to overly-endear himself to strangers Joe managed to develop a reputation with the local A&E department as “the rude cow” in his hour-long visit there.
With yours truly ferrying the rude cow to the hospital I missed the next group match against Hove Barbarians. Having gone 24-7 down we somehow managed to remember how to play sevens in the second half to win it 26-24 with a particularly difficult conversion by Reyno Norval to thank.
Having already lost their two other group fixtures we knew we were favourites to beat our third opponents, Hammersmith and Fulham Forgotten Heroes but with the distraction of some soon to be downed pints and basking in the sun we could have been forgiven for taking our foot off the gas. Fortunately we didn’t and ran out comfortable winners to top our group and go through to day two unbeaten.
For the H&F Forgotten Heroes the tournament was about more than the rugby as they were also there to raise funds for a fellow player, Stuart Mangan, who suffered a serious spinal injury last year whilst playing for the club. Throughout the weekend the team were selling necklaces and co-ordinating a cross-bar competition on the main pitch. Should you wish to donate to the cause please click this link.
For The Rugby Blog team, having completed the rugby part of the day successfully it was then onto the partying. Fancy dress for the evening was “anything goes” so to continue our animal theme we decided to go as “speedo animals”. You may wonder why the speedos and not just animals but we found last year that any appeal your fancy dress may have to the opposite sex is instantly augmented if you couple it with speedos. So with dignity and pride left back at the campsite we set off for the VIP section of the party where we put our fancy dress to the test. It succeeded for some but not others – no plan is ever foolproof.
Onto day two and a two-day hangover for some, a one-day hangover for others. With the sun shining and rugby to be played you can’t just sit around eating super-noodle sandwiches and wondering about the fine balance between repelling and attracting females so we went off to receive our free “no-hands” massage which turned out to be not as exciting or pleasant as it might sound.
Next it was onto the Quarter Finals where we met the Rugby Tour Barbarians who were pretending to be slightly worse for wear than us. It took us a while to shake the malaise out of our system and needed a last minute length of the field special from Squire to seal the match and our place in the semis.
By now it is safe to say our boys were starting to feel the effects of the weekend’s over-indulgences but we took the field knowing that one more victory would put us in a final on the main pitch in front of the crowd of thousands. Unfortunately we came up against a Warlingham Warriors team fresh from a Quarter-Final bye and with an academy player in Jack Walsh with such a fine step he once had our players tackling each other as he breezed through untouched under the posts. We were beaten by a better team who went onto comfortably win the Cup.
Being knocked out had the benefit of watching all the finals on the main pitch and catching the superb England victory at the London 7s. Of particular relish was being able to smile smugly at the ridiculous Kiwi in the crowd who for some bizarre reason kept shouting at us to “suck it” whenever NZ scored a try. The chorus of “suck it” that echoed back at him when Micky Young scampered over for the winner was truly delightful.
Sunday night’s fancy dress theme was “school disco” so we decided to maintain our unconventional approach by going as naughty netballers. For our Irish heartthrob, Peter Foley, dressing in drag seemed to make him somehow much more attractive to the assembled ladies and as the rest of us looked on jealously he embarked on a three hour dancing spree in the VIP section the likes of which may never be bettered.
All in all a fantastic event and for those interested in the proper sevens, in the Invitational Cup the Samurai Barracudas upset the reigning champions, the Stash All-Stars who boasted Tagicakibau and some Armitages in their number, to win an excellent final by 19-17.