Gallery: Chris Ashton praises Bury 7s as Samurais show fighting spirit to beat England

ENGLAND winger Chris Ashton has revealed that playing in Bury St Edmunds two years ago helped him become a 6 Nations hero.

Ashton returned to the ULR Premier International Sevens on Sunday, as a guest of honour and was among the hundreds of supporters who witnessed the full England side alongside Northampton Saints, Saracens and many more.

And the fantastic rugby on show was capped by something of a shock in the final, as England were edged out 21-19 by Samurai Barracudas in a thrilling last match.

Ashton himself starred in the inaugural tournament two years ago before becoming a star name for the Saints and then England.

And he admitted: “For me, this event was a turning point. I wasn’t playing for Northampton Saints at the time but I played here and it helped me learn the game and make the transition into full rugby union. It is great to be back and it looks even busier than when I played.”

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The third annual sevens tournament was declared the best ever as 16 high profile teams put on a showcase of high-paced, fast action rugby.

Local interest came courtesy of the Bury Gents side, but it always seemed likely that England and the Samurais would contest the cup final – even if the end result was slightly surprising.

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The plate competition was won by Esher who beat West Country Cavaliers in the final.

Tournament chairman Mike Robinson said: “I think it was a massive success and a fantastic day. The standard of rugby was outstanding, I don’t think anyone has seen that level of intensity at Bury before.

“The turnout was even better than we could have expected and we have already had one participating team get in contact to congratulate us on the standard and the day. It was fantastic to have Chris here and he made the event even more special.

Speaking after the first batch of group games, England skipper Ben Gollings said: “There is a high standard of rugby here and it is fiercely competitive. Our focus is on the world sevens tournaments in London and Edinburgh but this is great preparation.

“There is great support in Bury and it is a great invitational event – it is good for us to come and support it.”

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