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2 Royal Welsh RFC

At the African Safaricom 7s, 2011

Due to other commitments, the British Army 7s team were unable to accept a generous invitation to play in the Safaricom 7s over the period 5th/6th November 2011. Notably, in 2001 and 2001 the British Army 7s team had previously won back to back titles and such was the generosity of the of the invitation, that it was felt by the ARU that the competition should still benefit from an Army presence. The ARU wishes to thank the Commanding Officer of 2 Royal Welsh for allowing his team to step into the breach and this is their story.

The Safaricom 7s 2011 was the 17th iteration of this annual tournament which is branded as “Africa’s Premier 7s competition”. True to it’s promise the quality of rugby was of the highest order: 8 international teams entered including the Samoan (the eventual winners), Spanish and Kenyan IRB Series teams plus 6 professional teams from across the globe that also included a Samurai team sporting 4 Fijian internationals.

To really illustrate the calibre of athlete playing, the best player in the 2010 IRB Series, Mikaele Persamino, was lining up for Samoa.

This was the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh’s first appearance in the Safaricom 7s and we swapped a wintery Tidworth for Nairobi’s high 20s temperatures and thunderstorms. Quite a change from what we have been training in over recent weeks. The first couple of training sessions opened the lungs and raised heart beats as we worked hard to overcome the change in temperature and also the altitude (Nairobi is 1795m above sea level). The sessions were hard but the InterContinental Hotel was a great retreat serving up excellent meals, and allowing a dip in a pool complete with jacuzzi and sauna. Train hard; Rest hard!

As the tournament drew closer the training developed into 7s specific tactics and drills. Trying to morph the 15s mentality is never easy particularly as our strength was our strength. Although we had pace out wide we were at our best when we kept the ball tight and played a close off-load game.

The day of the tournament dawned and the we were playing in the tournament opener against Zimbabwe in the Nyayo National Stadium. Initially a little overawed, and drawn into playing the expansive 7s game made to look easy by the south sea islanders, Zimbabwe stoked up a strong advantage. By the second half we had settled and had the last say with a solo, length of the pitch try from Corporal Graham Mansfield. The second match was against tournament favourites, Samurai. Their entirely Fijian squad was just too powerful for us and they scored well early on leaving us with an insurmountable task in the second half.

Our third and final group game was against Tanzania. After a good rest and the opportunity to become accustomed to the partizan crowd of over 20,000 Kenyans we went out and played our rugby. The strength of Private Ryan Davies and the sleight of hand and foot of Lance Corporal Morgan Evans and Private Amori Nailago was too much and we secured our first victory plus our first international scalp since perhaps the days of the Battalion’s posting to Hong Kong.

Our third place finish in Group D the day before had placed us into the Bowl Competition and in the Quarter-Finals we faced a club team from Tanzania. It was another tough game of rugby but another victory and we were looking good for the Semi-Finals. The unrelenting African sun however, and the inevitable injuries, took its toll and our squad of 12 players was down to 9: a bench of just 2. Up against a Bristol Select team which had picked up a number of professional players from Bristol RFC and local Kenyan teams proved too much and we bowed out.

The final of the main competition was the Battle of the Pacific Islanders contested between Samurai and Samoa. It was an outstanding display of fast, direct 7s with blistering skills and an incredible Samoan defence. It was a match of such quality that it would have comfortably graced any of the showcase IRB Series events. Samoa won 31 – 12 and celebrated with the haka.

The Safaricom 7s 2011 was an unbelievable event to have been a part of. The standard was incredible and it was a privilege to watch, let alone play against the teams participating. All of the Royal Welshmen that came to Nairobi, were immaculately hosted by Philip Jalango and Alia Bellamy and treated to perhaps the finest rugby opportunity of their careers. We had a fantastic time and I think some are already hoping we did enough to play at the Safaricom 7s 2012!

Management:

Major Rich Arden
Captain Dai Davies
Sergeant Dean Cunvin
Cpl Keith Urch

Players:

Corporal Tauyavu Bativagone
Corporal Graham Mansfield
Lance Corporal Taniela Delaitamana
Lance Corporal Morgan Evans
Private Ryan Davis 17
Private Aporosa Masicola
Private Ryan Moore
Private Joni Nabulivou
Private Nakeleto Nadeke
Private Amori Nailago
Private Corey Strickland
Private Francis Tuinasakea

Results:

R WELSH 05 v 38 Zimbabwe (Group D) (Eventual runners up in the Shield Competition)

R WELSH 07 v 33 Samurai (Group D) (Eventual runners up in the Main Competition)

R WELSH 33 v 07 Tanzania (Group D) (finished 3rd behind Samurai and Tanzania)

R WELSH 19 v 17 Goshawks (Quarter-Finals of Bowl Competition)

R WELSH 07 v 24 Bristol Select (Semi-Finals of Bowl Competition)

Links:

http://www.safaricom.co.ke/safaricom7s
http://safarisevens.kenyarfu.com

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