GALLERY: Greene King IPA Bury St Edmunds RUFC Sevens
A record crowd watched the most successful Green King IPA Bury St Edmunds Sevens tournament yet, according to club chairman Mike Robinson.
More than 3,000 people saw Northampton Saints defeat Samurai Barracudas, one of the country’s top invitational sides and an outfit who had been the undoing of the Saints in previous tournaments, in the final, with Player of the Tournament Cam Dolan amongst the scorers in a 31-21 win.
Esher and Welsh Charitables were swept aside by the Saints in their pool matches, before Worcester and Sale were dispatched in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
“It was a fantastic day and a real showcase, not only for Bury Rugby Club but for the sport in general,” said Robinson.
“We had record crowds, helped by the weather, and saw some outstanding rugby which was really appreciated for its high quality and entertainment.
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“Everybody involved who I have spoken to was unanimous in labelling it the best (tournament) yet and there were several factors that made it special, including (England star) Dylan Hartley who made a lot of youngsters’ days by signing autographs and having pictures takes.”
Fitting then that it was Hartley’s team-mates that prevailed in the event, which is growing in popularity and quality year-on-year.
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“The competitiveness of the tournament is key and it is now seen as a prestigious prize to win,” Robinson added.
“A lot of the players remarked how they thought it was one of the best Sevens tournaments on the circuit.
“Leicester brought a strong side as did the Barracudas while Northampton had some of their first team involved. It was a real success.
“I spoke to Dusty Hare (Northampton coach) and he said he was disappointed his side did not perform particularly well last year and made sure his side came and did better on Sunday.”
Robinson is delighted that the tournament is now an established force and revealed how the event came to get off the ground.
“It was the brainchild of Terry Sands (Bury St Edmunds director of rugby) and he deserves a huge amount of credit for twisting a lot of arms at the club and convincing people that the tournament could be a big thing if it was done right,” explained Robinson.
“A few of us needed persuading but we are glad we did as it raises the club’s profile in the region, on and off the pitch, and showcases what a good sport rugby is.
“We have the main competition, plus an event for local teams and, for the first time on Sunday, we had a women’s event which is in its embryonic stages.
“We hope that we can build on that as the game becomes more professional.”