What a difference a year makes? After the monsoon in 2016, what a welcome change the blue skies and endless sunshine made for the 2017 Gullivers Sports Travel Surrey Under 18 Sevens.
In near perfect conditions – 40 teams assembled at Richmond Athletic Ground to compete for the Surrey Sevens Cup, a total of 164 games in one single day! The first matches kicked off at 10am, with a number of close scores recorded.
With ten groups of four, all pitches at the ground were in use and we were delighted to see the high quality rugby being played. The majority of matches were close, with just a few points between the sides - letting us know we were in for a great day of competitive rugby!
With the video livestream set up on pitch 4, it was great that parents, teachers and supporters who were not able to make it for the day could watch their sides compete online - a fantastic way of spreading the word of grassroots rugby and great for the schools to show what they're made of.
The close games continued, with the top ten winning teams qualifying for the final sixteen along with the best six runners up. With the standard of competition so high, it was great to see competitive teams progressing to the knockout stages despite not winning their group.
The knockout stages began with a shock as Group 5 runner up St John's School, Leatherhead came from behind to beat previous tournament winners Wellington College. A hard fought game with some fantastic rugby from both sides! The knockout stages continued and we found the Semi-final draw as below:
Semi-final 1) Hampton School v St John's School, Leatherhead
Semi-final 2) Beechen Cliff School v Cranleigh School
Both semi-finals provided some great rugby action, with Hampton securing their place in the final first with a three point victory against St John's in a tight game where fierce defence dominated the match. The second semi-final saw more running rugby and Beechen Cliff emerged winners 26-15 over a very good Cranleigh School side.
Prior to the main final, Caterham School played Sir John Fisher School in the Surrey Schools Plate final. Both teams started well, with running rugby and solid defence the tactic for their final, however Caterham School secured the victory with some outstanding pace and individual brilliance.
The stage was set for the main final, Hampton School v Beechen Cliff School - with neither school having won the tournament previously, it was exciting knowing we would crown a brand new champion at the Surrey Schools U18 Sevens.
Both teams traded trys for the first half, with the game played in true sevens spirit and both teams scoring length of the field trys. However it was Hampton School who emerged victorious to be crowned Surrey Schools U18 Sevens Cup Champions with a 22-10 victory.
The day was a huge success and we were delighted to be headline sponsor for such an iconic school rugby tournament. Our staff members spent the day chatting to teachers about tours, entertaining the players with our kicking competition and generally enjoying the Spring sunshine – we just wish we had packed suntan lotion!
A huge thank you to everyone involved, we look forward to another great tournament (and great weather) next year!