Richmond Summer Sevens

 

All 3 squads saw success, with the “Men’s social” and the Women’s squads both reaching the semi-finals of their tournaments, the latter including a mix of alumni, new players and current Blues. The women lost narrowly in the first game against Barnes and won the second game very comfortably against UCL. The third game was against a Wimbledon side including a current Scottish international and we lost 4 tries to 2. This qualified us for the plate final and we won by a walkover.

The men’s main squad, playing as the Cambridge Leopards, stole the show by winning the Open tournament, defeating the “Porky Blinders”, who are basically the Loughborough University Alumni Sevens outfit 14-7 in the final, which was a tremendous result. The group games were both won relatively comfortably, and the Leopards were grateful that one of the teams in their group were a no-show, so winning the 2 games saw them top the group – something that the Porky Blinders also benefitted from. The Quarter final was also won relatively comfortably, with some impressive breaks and scores from James Elms being particularly memorable. However, success was being achieved at a price. Former CUAC speedster Elliott Baines did not get past the first game, and both Stevie Leonard (who had been very impressive in the group games) and Simon Davies left the field in the quarter final.

These injuries left the squad rather exposed in the backs, with those “pacy legends” Dave Spelman and Tim Bond seeing rather more action than they might have expected, and Bondy playing mainly on the wing!

The semi final opponents were “The Winking Prawns”, a regular sevens side loosely based around KCS Wimbledon Old Boys. They featured possibly the best player of the tournament, almost certainly an “accomplished campanologist”, who possessed gas and skill to burn, and muscle definition that would not be out of place in the Premiership. He duly sliced open the light blues defence after 2 minutes without a hand being laid on him, and the portents were ominous.

However, some close policing, and the fact that said individual was clearly knackered in his 5th game in about 3 hours, nullified his further influence, and a tremendous game ensued, and the Light Blues approached the final 2 minutes of the game with a 5 point lead. However, they could not prevent a score out wide, which went unconverted, and so sudden death extra time ensued. Both sides had chances, but things looked bleak for the Blues as the Prawns pressed for the final score. However, a brilliant tackle and turnover in their own 22 gave the Blues the ball, and skipper Charlie Amesbury was able to break the first tackle and set off on the lung busting 80m charge for the winning try – he looked like he was going to be hauled down just over half-way by a Flying prawn, but a change of direction from Charlie and a stumble from the knackered Prawn, and the lads, pretty much against all their expectations, had made the final! Epic stuff.

It was perhaps a good thing that the tournament was running late giving the lads an extra 40 minutes rest before taking on “the Porkies” from Loughborough. A fiercely competitive match saw the Blues defence hold firm, and then the pressure they exerted led to two scores from the prolific Buchan Richardson (who had been excellent all day and ruled the line-outs and restarts in particular), and the human dynamo that is Brain du Toit. Both were converted for a 14-0 half time lead.

The Porkies were always going to come back hard after the break, and duly pulled a score back after 2 minutes. There then followed a tense end to end battle featuring some tremendous defence and errors from both sides, but neither was able to add a further score. There was both joy and no little amazement when the referee called time and the trophy went to the Leopards.

A brilliant performance all round, and perhaps invidious to single out individuals, but as previously mentioned Richardson and Elms were excellent all day, while the big boys crucially did their bit. However, above all of this, the driving force of the skipper Charlie Amesbury, who has put so much energy into getting the sevens squad together, postponed going to a wedding in Bristol to lead the side, and then came up with the huge plays when they really mattered shines above all else. Cambridge Rugby has been hugely lifted by having this great bloke and top player with us for 2 years. The respect and affection that the players have for him is palpable, and we are sure that he will continue to have a close and strong relationship with the club going forward.

Rob Heginbotham