On what was said to be one of the hottest days of the year the Army hosted three teams from around the world, Kenya, Wales and Irish Exiles. With Wales being the current world sevens champions, and also the bowl victors in the recent London iRB sevens the crowd eagerly anticipated the match against Kenya as they are ranked fifth in the world.
The two teams are on different scales of the sevens spectrum but Ireland were determined to make themselves known.
Kenya started off strong with a try in the first few minutes.
Ireland continued to test the Kenyan defence but having no success in breaking through resulted in Kenya continuing to dominate throughout with the game finishing 39-0.
With a quick break in the middle of the two games it was not long until the Army took on the world sevens champions Wales, who came into the game with confidence as they had won the bowl competition recently in the iRB London sevens, this showed as they went ahead in the early stages of the match, the Army defended well but gaps in the defence resulted in tries for Wales and they ran out 55-0 victors.
The next game on the agenda was the Army against Kenya, a much anticipated game by the soldiers in the stand, and they were not disappointed with the Army scoring first, this came as a shock to Kenya who did not take long to level the score. The game carried on in the same fashion with both sides scoring one after another, in the end Kenya edged the win with a 27-17 victory a very enjoyable match for the crowd.
To follow that high intensity game was Wales to play the Irish Exiles, despite the previous game being one of the most entertaining of the day, we were not let down by the game that followed, with Wales being favourites it was a shock to see Ireland run over the line first. But it was not long till the Irish slipped up letting the Welsh run in for their first try of the game, Ireland continued to battle scoring two more tries, but Wales took no time in getting back to their stride and winning convincingly 44-12.
The last two matches after lunch were the even matches as the Army took on the Irish Exiles and Wales played Kenya.
This match was a chance for both sides play someone on their own level as the professional teams seem to be taking the day by storm, as expected, both teams started strongly with passes going through hands, but the Army found the first points, this did not seem to affect the Irish as they hit back almost immediately. As the game went on the Army prevailed and they came out winners by a score of 27 – 5.
To follow was the game everyone was waiting for, the two professional sides took to the pitch to play what was expected to be the best game of the day, and we were not disappointed. The game had height intensity and was end to end throughout. Wales broke through the Kenyan line first to score, and they went into half time with the lead, in the second half there were not many scores but Kenya put themselves a head with the only score to win 25-19. A great contest from both squads.
Overall the day was a big success for everyone, for the Army and the Irish it was a day of experience and opportunity to play professional teams, to learn new things and also give the professionals a test before they fly to Moscow for the sevens World Cup next weekend.
For Wales and Kenya it was a very productive warm up before the World Cup, as ex England player and present Kenyan Head Coach Mike Friday commented “It was a great opportunity to analyse our performance and work on our set plays”. For Wales being the current world champions it was an opportunity to try out plays and also improve on aspects of their game before defending their world title.
Reported by Jay Darby