This weekend saw a delegation of Blue Boys old (ahem, mature!) and young head to Milton Keynes to compete in the MK Ruggerfest for the first time. With mixed weather and an early start, the social kicked off on the coach down there.
The festival itself has been running successfully for a number of years and can boast some quality teams, rugby and fun throughout the day. MK Ruggerfest run a RFU Secure Trading Sevens Series Qualifier for both men and women – a qualifying tournament for high level teams from all over the country. There are also social tournaments for men and women’s teams that are less serious and more fun.
With over 45 teams competing this competition is known to be one of the largest tournaments in the south, where each team plays a minimum of 4 games and there are prize monies, incentives and trophies up for grabs to the eventual winners of each category.
The CRFC beano started early for the participants with a meet of 7am to MK. A committee of veterans arranged the day and a coachload of rugby players set the pace for the day early on. The on-board “Easyjet style” refreshments and match preparation were the order of the day en-route, with much that embodies the values of rugby.
Teams for the day were only decided on the journey to the festival and the designation of teams was based on age, fitness, experience…and how long it had been since they were last on the pitch! Each team was given a name surrounding the theme of the club’s veteran side, the Undertakers. The younger members of the party formed the “Pallbearers”, a team whose youth and exuberance were their USP. “One Foot in the Grave” (“1FG”) and “7 Feet Under” (“7FU”) teams were comprised of the more “experienced” players, some of whom currently play for the Undertakers and others who haven’t played in years but who got back on the pitch for the event.
All teams faced some stiff competition playing against teams from around the country and the festival was played very much in the spirit of the game.
The CRFC “Pall Bearers” team comprised the younger members of the party whose speed and enthusiasm would be able to match their opponents.
The matches themselves were fast paced and high quality, considering the interval refreshments! But this really didn’t matter as all three teams made good accounts of themselves with some inspirational rugby played at tempo and precision at times. You could see in every match that the game was played with the flair that comes from players truly enjoying the game.
So as the teams took to the fields, it was the 7FU squad that bagged an unblemished record, eventually winning all their pool games and heading into the quarter finals, where they faced -and beat- the Fire brigade.
As they accelerated into the semi-finals, it was to face the home team who comprised many of the current Milton Keynes 1st XV squad, who play in an equivalent league to Chelmsford’s RFC 1st XV.
The 7FU lads didn’t falter or disappoint and came out winners, with the unenviable task of a final game and glory against a Biggleswade RFC, who were no push overs throughout the tournament and who also play in a league equivalent to that of the Blue Boys 1st XV.
Following suitable hydration, the 7FU lads produced probably their most competitive game, where every man played his part against a youthful and determined Biggleswade side, who played their part in a very physical game.
At full time the game was a draw, with the crowd in hushed anticipation of what might unfold. In extra time, as the 7FU lads were camped on the opposite line, the ball was turned over and Chelmsford beat a frantic retreat to recover the ball.
After the kick and chase, the 7FU players’ player Andy Little made a fantastic break from inside his own half to score the winning try, leaving the CRFC supporters in huge spirits and the whole squad able to enjoy the rest of the day.
Mention and credit to Biggleswade RFC who joined the 7FU team in the after match celebrations when the final whistle blew in true spirit of the game.
It was these older, more seasoned, players who played as though they were 20 or 30 years younger and, on this performance, any one of these players would be a credit to their 1st XV team, as they played much of the games in their opponents’ half and played some very entertaining, flowing 7s rugby.
Their performances were built on team work and the ability to interchange the subs without there being any dip in play. The strength and depth of the team was integral to their success and we hope to see this carry on into the new season.
Everyone travelling from the club was part of this club win and every member of the squad supported and applauded their rugby family, celebrating as a squad late into the night.
Special note to Kev Thomsitt for a speedy recovery, who unfortunately sustained a broken wrist whilst trying to dot the ball down following a quality run to the line so wishing him a speedy recovery.
Captain Paul “Smeagle” Welch and the team were presented the winner’s trophy and the winning prize money, whic was immediately donated to the Wooden Spoon charity, and Paul was also awarded the John Silk Special Award for “Embodiment of the ethos of the game”.
The prize beer awarded was much needed by the thirsty squad after a long day and needed to be consumed to replace the depleted electrolytes. After all, the squad’s health and fitness are paramount!
Thanks go to Tristan Barratt, Les Jefferson, and Captain “Smeagle” for organising and facilitating this away day, as well as Jemma Pemberton, who supported the boys as the team’s Sports Therapist.
Pictures and report by Jim Howe (CRFC 7FU Team Manager).