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Harpenden Pub 7s

The end of the season is almost upon us with the final leg being a trip out to Harpenden Rugby Football Club for the 48th Harpenden National Pub 7s which had teams from around the globe; France, Germany, Italy, Kenya and Nigeria, all with an aim of winning the cup and more importantly bragging rights with national and international teams on display.

The first game for the Reds was “Dunmow Round Table” a team who embraced the true spirit of rugby promoting its core values. Normally for the Reds the start of the day can be slow getting the bodies warmed up and focussed; however today wasn’t going to be one of those days. From the kick off, the Reds applied pressure in every aspect of the game gaining possession and passing the ball across the width of the pitch to finally see Alex Swann charge down the wing scoring the first try in the corner. This was the start of an avalanche seeing the Reds scoring tries from Bruce Vuetanatotoka (1) and Raymond Bishop (2) before the referee blew up for half time. The second half started like the first, constant pressure and commitment from the team allowed three unanswered tries from Vuki Vukinavanua, Jim Tuitubou and Raymond Bishop scoring his hatrick to give a final score of 45–0 at the whistle. A great start for the Reds but it must be said that the team enjoyed playing opposition that embraced the contest and occasion.

Joe Vimataki staying calm under pressureJoe Vimataki staying calm under pressure

Next up in the pool stages were the “Flying Lizards” consisting of University and Academy players who play to a very high standard. A charged up Red team which took first blood by the flying Welshman, Raymond Bishop, scored in 42 seconds showing pace does matter in 7s! Shocked Lizards regained their composure and reinforced their defences which resulted in a well worked try on the left wing to draw the score. The Reds energised by their slip in defence only had one thing on their minds, the Lizards try line which saw Raymond Bishop and Sami Raloka scoring before the break to give a score of 15-5. Team talk finished the Reds came out in the second half fighting with a tidal force of effort finally breaking down the defences to see Alex Swann, Ben Turaganivalu, Raymond Bishop and Sami Raloka all going over to give a final score in the last of the pool games of 34-5 and a place in the cup knock out stages.

Raymond Bishop still off loading the ball in contactRaymond Bishop still off loading the ball in contact

First team up in the final 16 of the knock out phase of the cup was ‘Friends of Kenya’, a team made up from senior players around the African region that all knew how to play the game in style. Team talk complete, the kick off only saw the Reds apply pressure in defence which saw the ball finally being knocked on with Alex Swann collecting to run between the posts for an opening try. Not wanting to be missed off the score sheet, both Sami Raloka and Raymond Bishop added their tries to see the Reds lead at the break 19-0. The second half was like the first, the Reds applying pressure which resulted in turning over the ball and scoring tries by Tuvita Tamatawale, Koms Komaiyasa and Vuki Vukinavanua to give a final score of 40-0 and onwards to the quarter finals.

Koms Komaiyasa dancing through the Kenyans defenceKoms Komaiyasa dancing through the Kenyans defence

Next up and surprisingly after the schedule announcements where Italy’s National 7s team, a team that had played outstanding 7s rugby in the pool and knock out stages and wanted the Reds blood. However, the Reds are not a team just to sit back and let you attack which was clearly evident from the start. Clash of the titans, both teams were determined to win. Seeing bone-shattering tackles exciting the crowds that saw defences causing the ball to be turned over equally until an off load capitalised by Italy scoring in the right corner to give them a lead of 0-5 at the break. This was now the time to see the true qualities of the Reds and how they would answer to the challenges and score. Tuvita Tamatawale leading his troops by example tested the intensity of the Italian defence resulting in a converted try in the first minute to show the Reds meant business and more importantly they are not taking a step backwards. Shocked, Italy tried to change gear which was matched by the Reds who scrapped for every second of the half to see Tuvita Tamatawale scoring his second converted try giving a lead of 14-5 with 4 minutes to go. Collecting the ball from the restart, Italy continued to apply pressure with some outstanding play and last minute tackles stopped Italy from scoring until Zack Vakasawaqa tactfully collecting the ball from another bone-shattering tackle seeing the line and the only thing on his mind was crossing it. After a 40m dash he dived over the line to sink the hearts of the Italian team giving a final score of 19-5 at the whistle. Forgetting the score, this was an outstanding game for all to see, the passion shown by both teams, particularly the Reds was nothing short of outstanding, proud to be a soldier and in the Army showing the true character and spirit, embracing the core values of sport and military life.

Vuki Vukinavanua showing how to clear the ruck with good body anglesVuki Vukinavanua showing how to clear the ruck with good body angles
Zack Vakasawaqa scoring the final try to sink Italy’s hopes and dreamsZack Vakasawaqa scoring the final try to sink Italy’s hopes and dreams

With a short turn around, next up were White Heart Marauders which is a team on the GB Series circuit full of 7s stars led by Howard Graham that wanted the Red’s scalp and thought after their last game the Reds would be battered and bruised. Correct in battered and bruised, but definitely on a high from the last game saw the Reds on fire and dampening the spirits of White Heart Marauders by scoring 3 tries to one giving a lead at the break of 21-5. The second half saw the Reds maintain pressure but reserve energy due to the limited recovery time and the knowledge that they were going to be in the final. Before the final whistle our flying Welshman put the final dagger into White Heart Marauder’s hopes by scoring between the posts to give a final score of 28-5 and a final beckoning.

James Peckham showing how to break the line on one of his blistering runsJames Peckham showing how to break the line on one of his blistering runs

Our opponents for the final, after beating the top seeded team Apache, was Germany’s National 7s team who had, like Italy, played some scintillating rugby and deserved their place in the final. With a crowd estimated at more than two thousand, this was going to be an entertaining final pushing the boundaries of professional and amateur sportsmen. From the kick off, Germany won the ball and began to pass it across the pitch until the Reds pressure turned possession and attacked the Germans in the same manner. The first try of the final was scored by Germany after an off load was intercepted with a clear run for the line. With a score down, the Reds remained calm and focussed to win the restart and gain territory through pressure to finally see the ‘Flying Welshman’ Raymond Bishop blast down the left side of the park with a handoff to score a try. Not satisfied, the Reds won the restart again and mounted another attack confusing the Germans defence for Jim Tuitubou to charge up the middle, off loading to Koms Komaiyasa to score between the posts giving a lead at the break 12-5. Team talk complete and bodies tired but energised, the Reds restarted and retained possession. Passing the ball across the park they pressurised Germany until Koms Komaiyasa broke the line and off loaded to Vuki Vukinavanua scoring a converted try. With the intensity increasing, line breaks became limited until Alex Swann’s smart chip ahead allowed Germany to regain possession on their 5m line without support to have the Reds awarded a penalty. Capitalising on their mistake the Reds set piece play caused confusion with runners coming in from all angles to finally see Koms Komaiyasa go over the line to score a try. The final try to the Reds was a reward for his leadership both on and off the park, Tuvita Tamatawale opened Germany’s defence to blast through the middle to sink any chance of a fight back and claim the title of winners with a final score of 29-14.

Koms Komaiyasa showing how to score a try rather than a football dive!Koms Komaiyasa showing how to score a try rather than a football dive!
Germany v British Army 7s Teams post final enjoying the occasionGermany v British Army 7s Teams post final enjoying the occasion

Overall an outstanding display of rugby for the weekend that embraced everything rugby, as a sport, promotes and values. Thank you to all the supporters that came to watch the team both today and throughout the season, plus the supporters on the web and our Facebook page. God Bless and see you at our next fixture.

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