The final bank holiday of the summer saw the Army Reds 7 team travel up to Harpenden to defend their title, with the warm weather holding out and the teams that have entered, this was going to be a great days rugby. Teams from the top of the 7s circuit along with Premiership and International teams, the Reds knew that the challenges of the day will test the core spirit of the team.
First up in the pool games were Pistol Shrimps, a club team who embraced the values of the game and played with great spirit the Reds enjoyed the run out and scored six tries demonstrating strong defence and attack to give a final score of 40 – 0. The next pools team were Beer Rats Rugby Club who were a social team which had their dressed Beer Rat leading the team who defiantly knew how to play rugby but didn’t defend in a manner expected of a wise old running Rat, that said the Reds maintained a focus and practiced their moves and deliver a stunning performance scoring 61 – 5. Praise for the quickest score of the day must go to Vuki who scored in 5 seconds in the second half of the game, a classic run from the kick off capturing the ball in the air saw him a clear run to the line to score in a record time of 5 seconds even challenging the referee getting to his 22m line before the try (some said he didn’t make it but I think many couldn’t either!).
Pool stages complete, the Reds were selected for a direct route to the quarter finals which saw the Reds up against a passionate and hungry RAF Spitfires team. From the kick off, the Spitfires with passion, commitment and enthusiasm worked hard to keep the score at one a piece for the first 4 minutes of the game until the light footed feet of Soki danced through the defence to score between the post which then opened the flood gates to give a half time lead of four tries to one. The second half saw the Spitfires apply pressure with a strong defence from the Reds keeping them at bay until a few turn overs that allowed the Reds to run up the field to score another three tries to give a final score of 47 – 7. Even with the score line complementing the Reds, the Spitfires played an exceptional game of rugby that was enjoyed by the spectators who expressed their gratitude by cheering both teams on with great enthusiasm – totally “Brothers in Arms”.
Next up were the semi finals against Wooden Spoon Marauders, one of the top teams on the UK circuit that wanted the scalp of the Reds. This could be seen from the kick off that this game was going to be a passionate affair, both teams tackled hard changing possession which saw the Reds striking first blood with a converted try. From the restart, Marauders applied pressure on the Reds defence which stood strong until the sixth minute to see them score between the posts which saw the Reds at half time lead 12 – 7. Team talk over, the second half was bone shattering as both team played with a commitment with a never say die attitude, however, the Reds didn’t take a backwards step and continued to apply pressure to finally win a scrum from a knock on and pick the ball out of play to give the Reds a winning score of 17 – 14 and onwards to the final.
The finals which must see Harpenden congratulated saw a rematch of the 2013 final seeing an informed Germany team ready to seek revenge from last years final against the Reds. Preparations complete, team warmed up, it was time for the final which saw Germany come out of the starting line up link bullets from a gun collecting the ball and darting in the right corner of the pitch to score their first try. Germany with the classic diamond restart formation scored three tries that initially shocked the Reds which required new tactics to counter the Germany onslaught. Calm and relaxed coaching team passed on new tactics which saw the Reds apply a barrage of pressure which resulted in two tries and a yellow card to Germany to see the Reds at the break trailing at 12 -19. After the calm words from the coaching staff and the team refocusing, the Reds came out in the second half with a passion that saw them scoring three tries to two which saw at the final whistle both teams scoring 31 points a piece, a great come back for the team that turned around a 19 ponit deficit. With the organisers and referee confirming the extra time play, it was agreed that both teams would play for the golden score to win the match with Germany winning the toss forcing the Reds to kick off. With the crowds now fired up supporting both teams, the Reds immediately applied pressure to Germany which saw the possession going both ways until the ball spilt out towards the Reds which exploited the gaps and floated the pass to Bull Jnr who pinned back his ears and went for the line 70+ meters away which saw everyone in the stadium hold their breath in anticipation will he make it or not, seconds later his actions spoke louder than his words to score the try up the right wing and darting in under the post to score the killing blow to a spirited Germany. Converting his try, the referee finally blew his whistle to see the Reds win for a second year 38 – 31 sealing a fantastic day of rugby and a great season promoting the core values of the sport.
Emotions over and mandatory photos taken, it was a pleasure for everyone in the Reds team to play in Harpenden, all three services took part in the event which must be congratulated not only for the sport but also for the values that the individual services brings to the community along with the chosen charity of the Royal British Legion.
Lastly, the team finished the day completing the Ice Bucket Challenge which saw members of the management and coaching team taking the challenge on behalf of the team leading by the front, well, we had to take some of the pressure of the day as the team put their bodies on the line on the pitch in a demonstration of the core values of the sport we love and play in the military – God Bless.