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International Defence 7s Competition Press Release

International Defence 7s Competition, Glendale, Denver, Colorado, USA, 18 – 19 August 2012

Following an exceptional domestic season the Army 7s team headed to Denver, Colorado to compete in the first International Defence 7s competition.

The tournament was hosted in the impressive international facilities of Infinity Rugby Park, Glendale, Colorado which has seen over the years many top rugby events with the latest being Serevi 7s the weekend before. The team was under no illusions, there was only one aim, to win the competition and demonstrate on the world stage why the British Army 7s team is so special. With the motto Soldier First and Sportsman Second, the local population was immediately behind the team during training sessions within the city limits at an uncomfortable altitude of 5.400 feet (a mile high city!). With the training session during the week up to the games in the local park, interest for all levels of the community came to watch the ball handling skill of the chosen sportsmen.

With the pre competition training complete which included concurring the summit of Mt Evan (14,265ft), the team were ready to take the field.

The competition was over the weekend seeing the pool games being played on the Saturday with the Reds leading the pool with wins over Australia Gold (31-5), Australia Green(33-0), RAF (47-0) and the French Defence Force (40-0). The scores looked impressive, but you couldn’t underestimate the affect of the sun, heat and altitude, all zapped the energy levels for both the management and players. However, the competition was on between LCpl Ben Seru and LCpl Semesa Rokoduguni as to who would be the top try scorer for the weekend. Sunday saw the Reds seeded in the Golden Tier which encompassed the top two teams from the International Teams (British Army and French Defence Force) and the top two teams from the USA Armed Forces (USAF and USMC).

As with the previous day, not only was the temperature rising with the sun, the pressure on the team to do well was evident for all. Under the impressive leadership from LCpl Gerhard Wessels (Skipper), the team played their first game of the day against the second international team, the French Defence Force. This year’s playing style became clearly evident with tries flowing in from all angles of the park from LCpls’ Kava, Rokodunguni, Seru, Vakasawaqa, Wessels and Spr Laqekoro seeing the final score 63-0 as the referee blew his whistle for time.

The next game was against the local favorites in Denver, the USAF with the local population supporting the Air Force as it has strong links to the military community and industry. However, the Reds didn’t show any mercy applying the pressure from the start showing that they can play with style and accuracy finally seeing the team winning 43-0. Next on the agenda was the physical tackle crunching and hard hitting team, the USMC. From the off this was going to be one of the impressive games of the tournament with the USMC wanting to play a physical up front battle using their forwards to try and punch their way through the centre of the park, however, the Reds matched them in size, character and professional approach.

The seasons last line of defence, LCpl Pate Vakasawaqa’s cool calm head upset the USMC attacks with some outstanding tackling for a player of his size which totally shocked the USMC and saw the ball being turned over to allow the rocketing pace of LCpls’ Seru, Speight and Rokoduguni running in tries, seeing the final score 43-0 which meant the Reds were in the final against the first team of the day, the French Defence Force.

With the tension heating up along with the temperature of the day, the final was going to see not only the finale of the competition but also the claim of being unbeaten this season which in its self is an impressive feat for any team in the 7s game. The referee blew his whistle and the final was underway which saw a rejuvenated French team applying pressure from the start which finally saw them cross our line within 2 minutes to score a converted try to give a lead of 7-0. This was a position the Reds don’t find themselves in very often, however, the skipper, LCpl Wessels, called the players in to refocus. With cool ice running through his veins, he led the team in scoring 68 unanswered points with a 4 try blitz from LCpl Seru teasing the defence from all angles.

The team had the support of the spectators and community which only speared them on to apply pressure from all areas of the pitch showing the skills experienced by many over the years and now on show in Denver, the local sports commentator even quoted that the team should be in the next Olympics showing the skills of this nature on display. However, the last word in the final was to the French who showed the flare expected by a French team with a chip over the defencive line to see their wing run in for a try in the corner of the park to give a final score of 68 – 12 to the Reds.

What an outstanding season, unbeaten in a domestic and international series showing some outstanding play under some extremely demanding situations by an ammature team who has the motto of “Soldier First and Sportsman Second”, the management team of Capt John Voss (HQ ARRC) and Cpl Alfred Vanua (Scots Guards) have lead the team to an unprecedent season claiming an unbeaten record – Well Done to you all.

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