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Making waves in Newquay

Following the long journey down to Newquay the Army 7s team had an early start with their first pool match against the ‘Bootleggers’ kicking off the days proceedings at 930am sharp! It seemed some may have woken up a little better than others as the Bootleggers worked the Army defence hard retaining possession for most of the first half but unable to capitalise as the Reds worked hard to withstand phase after phase.

A try on the stroke of half time by ever reliable speedster Ben Seru settled the nerves slightly and skipper Gerhard Wessels asked for more of the same from his team for the second half at the interval. The second half saw a more settled performance from the Reds as play hardly moved from within the Bootleggers half, a flurry of tries saw Ben Seru and Iggy Putty with two each and returning flyer Roko take his surely first of many trys for the day. Despite a few early morning wobbles the Reds ran out convincing winners against a good opposition 40-0.

The second pool match unfortunately turned to a Bye as opponents ‘Griffins’ failed to show for kick off so a 4 minute each way training match ensued for the Reds to keep the muscles and lactic acids ticking over. Onto the final pool match then, up against Windsor RFC. Player of the Season from 10-11 Sikeli Ratubuli was returning to the team for the first time this summer; he had assured the Management he had been sprint training in this uniform whilst on OPTAG in Canada and the evidence of this was clear from the start as his strength and speed were impressive.

Much as in the first match of the day the Reds were playing rugby all in their opponents half and were quick to capitalise on mistakes with tries from Bunny from a turnover scrum and Sikeli stripping a Windsor attacker of the ball to score on half time, 19-0 to the Army 7s. The Reds were up quickly in attack and defence in the second half looking to add to the try tally, we didn’t have to wait long for a Ben Seru ‘special’ breaking to run almost the length of the pitch, the first of his two tries for the second half. Two more from Zac and Nacayavou respectively gave another good result 45-0.

Unlike most other tournaments the Reds ‘attend and progress” straight to the quarter finals from the group stages, as it’s Wimbledon fortnight, we instead headed to the last 16 matches first. Our colourful opposition were the ‘Godfathers”, a charity team playing and raising awareness and funds for Children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent. Ben Seru is starting to make a habit of opening the scoring for the Reds and this match was no exception as he broke on half way to give the team an early lead, this was soon followed by his second as he cut through two defenders to score under the posts.

The Godfathers were pacy and Knoxy was making bull like tackles from wing to wing to shut them down, as possession switched to the Reds a pass unfortunately found itself into the hands of the Godfathers for them to score and the Reds conceded their first points of the day.

Super cool Rokko had returned from career courses in Germany and his ability to ‘create something from nothing’ has far from disappeared as he added another two tries for the Reds before half time. The tackles from the Army were hard and physical, Knoxy and Zac worked tirelessly and despite their obvious difference in size and stature were equally just as effective!. The score line was settled with two further tries from Seru and Bainvalu before full time 40-5 and back into the more familiar schedule of the quarter finals against Akuma Dragons.

The colourful Akuma Dragoons were sporting a few familiar faces for the Reds as Army player Dave Duffus and Bruce Vuetanatotoka lined up against them but on the field…. business is business. Roko opened the scoring early on for the Reds giving good chasing support to a Seru break but the Demons were looking to upset the party as they sniped up either wing, the Reds defence was good, as ever, but the Demons were patient, working play up field phase after phase to eventually work the gap and score out wide.

This is knock out rugby and the Reds knew they needed to respond immediately and they did in the form of Rokko, tearing through the Demons defence to hand off Bruce Vuetanatotoka; (they’re friends again now so don’t worry), and score. It was ‘tit for tat’ as the Demons raised their game again to respond to the Reds with another well worked try making it close at half time 14-12. Experience and cool heads are required in situations such as these and fortunately we have this in abundance with loyal Army 7s servants Ben Seru and Bunny; each adding two tries a piece in the second half to secure the victory 40-5 and a place in the semi finals.

There was a short delay in the schedule for the Semi Final against Rugby Rocks Yorkshire winners ‘Newitts Centurions’ to allow all Semi Finalists a fair recovery time should they progress through to the final. Normal preparations taken by the Reds and they were ready for the challenge. Early tries from Bunny and Maggie settled the nerves to give a 10-0 cushion but with the conversions missed it was still a wide open game. The Centurions attacked releasing their pace up the wings, Zac had been sharp sniping all day and for a ‘small man’ his defence had simply been awesome, channelling the David and Goliath mentality no man was too big for his reliable hits. It was however good defence from the Centurions that saw them push the Reds back up into our own 22 and a loose ball saw them seize the opportunity to score and convert. Captain Wes lead by example to secure the restart and set the tone for what was required, Seru broke from the following phases to bring the score to 17-7 at half time. No time to breathe just yet; the second half was very nearly rugby ping pong as identical tries from Roko breaking through and handing off tacklers were matched like for like by the Centurions who fought until the very end, fortunately the Reds, with extra conversions in our favour had the edge and secured their place in the final with a 29-19 victory.

As the storm clouds rolled over the sky and a rainbow cast over the sunken Newquay pitch, would the Army 7’s pot of gold be the title of Newquay Surf 7s Champions 2012? Almost twelve hours after we arrived for the start of the competition we took to the field to face ‘Storm 7s’ who had overcome Super Sevens Series side Apache in their semi final. A minutes silence was respectfully observed by the teams and crowd gathered on the bank for Armed Forces day and with that the match was underway. A pattern had emerged throughout the day and this match was not exception as Ben ‘Subaru’ Seru opened the scoring, 7-0. Gentle giant Joe Kava showed no sign of fatigue as he charged all over the park leaving gaps and defenders in his wake as he set up Zac for a second early try, 14-0. He very nearly added a try of his own, we all watched as he galloped up the touchline, we all watched as he beat the last defender and had done all the hard work, we all watched as he approached the final two meters before the try line and….dropped the ball……, one for the blooper reel, Storm were down but certainly not out as they responded with two tries of their own however a Roko special gave the Reds the cushion of 21-14 at half time. Despite the long day the rugby was end to end and both teams management were calling on their teams to draw all they could from their energy reserves. An early Roko try was cancelled out again by a Storm response, 28-19, a lead but not by much as fans of 7s rugby will know, things can change very quickly, fortunately quickness is something this talented team have a lot of and speedster Roko added his hatrick to secure the victory, a well fought final, to make it four wins from four for the Reds.

We are fortunate to have extremely talented rugby players within the British Army and when they come together in the form of the 7s team it really is something quite special to watch, on a day where Britain marked it’s pride in it’s Armed Forces, Army Rugby Union is very proud of it’s 7s team, 4 – 0, not bad, not bad indeed. See you in Edinburgh !

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