Thousands enjoy the Bury Rugby Sevens

A Barracudas player breaks in their upset defeat over last year's champions Northampton Saints

A Barracudas player breaks in their upset defeat over last year's champions Northampton Saints - Credit: Archant

A crowd of nearly 4,000 fans basked in the sunshine as they took in the red-hot action at the eighth annual Greene King IPA Sevens tournament, at Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club, on Sunday.

In what was billed as the best line-up in the tournament’s history, both England and Ireland joined Premiership giants Northampton Saints to vie for the title and £7,000 prize money.

In the end, the trophy was deservedly lifted by the Samurai Barracudas, who had been selected by Samurai chairman Mike Friday, and coached by former England and New Zealand rugby league player Henri Paul.

They pipped their Samurai International counterparts, from Spain, 28-22, in the Elite Cup final.

Both England and Ireland made it to the respectable semi-final stage but just missed out, such was the quality of opposition, while England head sevens’ coach and Team GB selector for this summer’s Olympics, Simon Amor, took the opportunity to watch the action.

In the open tournament for amateur sides, the Samurai Bulldogs took home the winners’ silverware whilst FRN finished in top position in the ladies’ competition.

Bury Barbarians, comprising Bury’s first team and invitational players, were promoted from the open tournament to the elite and reached the Plate semi-final stage, while Bury Ladies won their plate final.

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The army of fans who turned up to watch were also treated to an astonishing array of beers from main sponsors Greene King, whilst ice-cream vendors and children’s activities, hosted by Xplore managed a roaring trade.

Special rugby guest for the day England and Premiership legend Andy Goode, joined sponsors and fans to enjoy the day.

Speaking at the event, Goode, who has been shortlisted for Rugby Players Association’s Player of the Year 2016, said: “It has been a fabulous day and is great to see so many people turn out to watch world class rugby teams.

“I am certainly glad that in this heat, I am watching with a beer rather than playing!

“This tournament shows the huge interest sevens rugby is gaining across the UK ahead of its inclusion in the Rio Olympics this year.

“Thank you to Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club, sponsors and fans for welcoming me today.”

Speaking on behalf of the club chairman Michael Robinson said, “This tournament continues to put Bury on the map.

“Numerous teams and managers tell us the Greene King IPA sevens is the best sevens tournament on the circuit and each year it goes from strength to strength.

“Huge congratulations to our winners Samurai Barracudas for a spectacular display of rugby and many thanks to our army of ninety volunteers who made the day happen.

“Without them and our loyal sponsors it wouldn’t be possible.”

Tournament Director Terry Sands added: “The tournament stepped up another level yesterday – a bumper crowd of almost 4,000 people were able to experience a festival of high quality sevens rugby in the sun.

“The huge number of volunteers from the club have made this truly fantastic event get better and better every year.

“We will now start planning for 2017 where we intend to make this rugby event for rugby people bigger and better still.”