Bournemouth 7s – Day 1 – Pool Stages
Following success at Rugby Rocks, Richmond the Army 7s team returned to Bournemouth 7s Festival this weekend, the event is the biggest 7s competition in the United Kingdom attracting a crowd of 20,000 people to what has commonly become known as ’the party of the year’ however for the Army there was only business matters on the mind as we were looking to retain the Elite Men’s Cup title for a third consecutive year.
The Army’s first match was against Loughborough Students, newcomers to Bournemouth this year, the two sides should have met last weekend at Richmond but heavy traffic meant the students were unfortunately delayed but they were at Bournemouth with time to spare and so to kick off.
The Reds kicked off the second half and again early handling errors gave possession to the students, the Army defence had been awesome at Richmond last week and was again holding strong as Loughborough played for territory. Further tries for the Army from substitute Knoxy and Roko securing his hatrick saw the Reds run out winners 28-0 the score line not perhaps a true reflection of the more evenly matched game.
Again the reds had to wait over 5 minutes for their first score but patience is a virtue and it paid off with Ben Seru scoring two in quick succession nearing half time but with the restart won there was still time for a Roko special creating something from nothing and blasting over to take the Reds into half time 21-0.
From the restart the Reds worked the play back up to half way and a break through the centre saw Ben Seru score under the posts, there was still time for more before the break, Roko seemed to slip through tackle after tackle like soap through the hands as he charged his way to the line to add one more, half time 21-7 to the Reds. The second half saw more of the same end to end rugby, pressure in the Army forced an error giving Bath an excellent attacking opportunity with a scrum on our 5metre line and attack the did with a try in the corner, 21-12 it wasn’t over yet, who wanted it more? Wes and Knoxy were tackling demons driving the waves of Bath attacks backwards into their own half and as the ball came loose Ben Seru seized the opportunity sealing the win with a final try. The final score 28-12 to the reds and topping pool C going into Day 2.
As the party goers headed off to have fun into the early hours the team headed back to the hotel for ice baths, recovery and treatments to ensure they were well prepared for the knock out stages to follow the next day.
Day 2 – Knockout
The previous evening’s entertainment had obviously gone well as the team arrived to a very quiet ground on the Sunday morning. The many sore heads starting to emerge from the campsite but the Army team were focused, today the business end of the competition started and it was simple win or go home.
The Army restarted the match in the second half but with the kick not going ten awarded a free kick to Storm, an unusual mistake from the Reds could have easily been punished by the pacey Storm side if it wasn’t from an interception from Roko passing back inside to allow Seru to score within the opening minute.
The Semi final brought the Reds face to face with our friends and rivals Apache in what was a repeat of the 2011 festival final.
The rugby was end to end stuff with no area of the pitch being left unused, Roko broke through and with Army No 3 Jon on hand to receive the offload the reds went into the break 19-0.
The Army were looking to retain the Bournemouth 7s title for a third consecutive team, a feat not yet achieved by any other team in the tournaments history. Only newcomers Midwives stood in their way, newcomers they may be but certainly not to be underestimated having beaten Bath and Carmarthen Warriors on their way to the final.
Two further tries followed for the Reds from Zac and a Roko break down the wing to see the Reds go into the break leading 17-0. The Midwives restarted the second half with the kick falling straight into sniping scrum half Zac’s hands, he dummied through the Midwives defence to bring play up to half way and with Ben Seru on hand as ever in support to receive the offload and a wonderful 360 degree spin the Reds fourth try came on the stroke of a minute played. The Midwives retained possession from the restart and were trying to find ways to break through the Reds defence but for each attacker with the ball came two Army players to make the tackles. As play moved up into the Reds half they were awarded a penalty which Roko cleared up field to gain back some territory. Following the quick line out a long pass was intercepted by the Midwives who broke from their own half to score, the crowd were excited and the electricity seemed to be flowing through the pacy Midwives players who scored another two tries in very quick succession. The score, with 2 minutes to play was 22-19, it was anyone’s game and the next score would surely be the winning one. A thrilling end to the tournament for the neutral spectator but the Army heads camped on the sideline were looking at each other for reassurance, head coach Alfred is a notoriously calm man and his players needed to mirror is cool headedness. The Midwives had possession and shipped the ball wide to their own speedster on the wing, Roko propelled like a jet through the air to make the tap tackle but it wasn’t enough and the cover from Ben Seru meters from the Reds try line was all that stood between the Midwives scoring and certainly winning the match, the tackle came and he legally contested for the ball seeing the Midwives stripped from possession, the Army attack tore up the pitch for Seru to score as time ran out on the score board to seal the win and third consecutive Bournemouth 7s title for the Reds 27-19.
On this special Jubilee weekend, Britain certainly has a lot to be proud of and the Army 7s team is certainly doing its very best to raise the profile of this country’s superb military and all that it contributes to making Britain Great, Soldiers First, Sportsmen Second. Phase two complete, next stop the West Country 7s in Keynsham on the 16th June, see you all there.