When speaking to Director of Rugby David Ross a few weeks ago, he discussed with me the change of format for this year’s Sevens tournament and the importance of good weather for the event to be a success. Well at the conclusion of this year’s event it was fair to say that the new format provided a more exciting day of games and he was lucky with the weather, with Saturday by and large a very bright and sunny day.
The 9am start for the event may have been early for some of the men and women and for the spectators. Those there, however, were able to see the real essence of the day – The division of the competition into the performance tournament for the more elite sides like Durham University and Bishop Burton College, and the regular tournament for those sides designed to have a good laugh and enjoy the day. As much as the players did seem to be having a good time there was good quality rugby in both tournaments throughout the day. The morning session was comprised of the fixtures in the Regular Tournament with the 24 sides organised into eight groups of three. This then saw the winners of each group go through to the quarter-finals of the Regular Cup competition and then the bottom two sides dropping into the plate. Meanwhile in the performance competition some rearrangements had to be made by David Ross and tournament convenor Jack Patterson as one of the sides, Soul Men, were a no show.
Highlights of the morning include the Durham game against surprise package Scrum Powerbomb. In terms of the regular tournament there were mixed performances, with fresher side Los Jagerares providing some amusing performances, notably against third year side Drillers Anonymous. This game was not the highest in terms of quality but the bigger crowds in attendance made it feel more exciting and there were a few comic incidents in the game. One such incident was when both sides rucked over the ball but no one was there to collect, leading the Drillers player to pick the ball up and run half the length of the field to score.
There was a lull around midday, which allowed the players to recover and the people in attendance to grab some lunch from the burger tent and some alcohol, with Pimms seemingly the tipple of choice for many. The afternoon saw the knockout games get into full swing. Durham took on Bishop Burton in the first per
formance semi-final and it was Durham who ran out victors and progressed to play Howe of Fife in the final after they beat Scrum Powerbomb. The final of that competition came after the St Andrews Seniors team won the women’s tournament. They were joined in the winner’s enclosure by Howe of Fife. Durham made the perfect start and led 19-7 at the break over their Scottish opponents but the local club roared back, inspired by a brilliant try from St Andrews first year student Rob Lind. That was one of four that Howe recorded in the second half and they ended the game dominantly winning 35-24.
That game was promptly followed by the final of the Regular tournament Cup final between the ISC Red Kites and the team from Strathclyde University. Strathclyde were comfortable winners 26-5 and it was a deserved victory for a team that could well be in the Performance tournament next year. The final game of the day was for the Plate trophy and the crowd was still strong up at University Park for the game that turned out to be very entertaining between She Wants the Deen and Scotch Pie and Beans. The teams traded opening scores before She Wants the Deen took the advantage and ended up running out victors, four tries to two, taking home the Plate trophy in the process.
Overall the day can only be considered a success for David Ross and his team. The new format was perfect to ensure that the games were more competitive and the concept of a performance tournament just a few weeks before the BUCS Sevens nationals provides a great warm up opportunity. The weather was obviously favourable to the players and the organisers but the coordination of the event, with four pitches in constant use, was great and was a result of hard work on the part of all those involved. Roll on the 2017 edition, hopefully even bigger and better than this year’s Photo: Sammi Ciardi offering