Rosslyn Park National 7s
Rugby took centre-stage again this week with the showpiece of all schools’ Rugby 7s tournaments: Rosslyn Park. The National Sevens tournament sees hundreds of teams and some 9,000 players descend on south-west London for this most prestigious of tournaments that draws teams from across the globe.
St Edward’s entered sides in all three of the boys’ age groups this season. First to play were the 1st VII who were looking to improve and achieve what so few teams do in reaching the second day of the tournament for the third time in four years. The 12-man squad had a simply outstanding day amongst a field of 280 teams, winning all of their Pool matches against some reputable sides, often by sizeable margins – most notably a 59-5 drubbing of XVs rivals Malvern. Their first match was against RGS Worcester and they had the added and rare bonus of being selected for live broadcast. The 1st VII did themselves proud with a 19-5 opener, following it up with a powerful performance against Prior Park which they won 45-0. As the afternoon games began, Teddies found themselves on the main show pitch, with live broadcast and full commentary to accompany their 33-5 win over Reed’s, before the match against Malvern completed the pool stage.
The elimination match drew Teddies against one of the perennial tournament favourites in Epsom. The scoreline didn’t tell the story in what was actually a highly competitive game, but unfortunately the match ended 0-27. Teddies held their opposition to a nil-nil second half until the very last minute which showed their strength of character under such a tough onslaught by a team that recently won the prestigious Surrey 7s by beating Cranleigh in the final.
Wednesday brought entry to the Bowl competition and an opener against last year’s Vase finalists, St Peter’s, York. St Peter’s showed their mettle and demonstrated why their name comes with a reputation, but a final win by 46 to 17 against an Eastborne side that had already seen off Marlborough and Wycliffe among others was no bad way to end the tournament for the 1st VII.
Particular congratulations to Will James whose performances saw him picked out as one of the tournament’s best players by several Head Coaches and tournament organisers. With well over ten tries to his name over the two days of competition, he was one of the highest try-scorers of the tournament which is a remarkable achievement. For many of the Upper Sixth it was their last touch of the oval ball for Teddies, and Tom Wyles and Will Monks scored a wonderful interception try and a deftly-taken conversion respectively to finish off their rugby playing careers in style.
Both the U16s and U14s found themselves in competitive groups. The U16 VII deserve credit for their battling displays and can be pleased with the tries they scored, with two each against Eton, Malvern and Hampton. The U14s should also be mightily proud of their performances, with tight games throughout their pool matches ensuring that, though they didn’t proceed beyond the pool stage, they could leave the tournament on Thursday with their heads held high and with the experience of having played in the world’s biggest rugby tournament. They began with a 19-21 loss to RGS Worcester before running Cheltenham close at 26-38 and finishing their matches with a 19-42 defeat against another of those strong Epsom sides.
All-in-all, an excellent tournament for St Edward’s to conclude a Sevens season that has promised much and produced it on more than one occasion.