Orkney visitors are sevens champs

SHETLAND Rugby Club held the annual BP Mid-Summer Sevens tournament last weekend, with Orkney taking home the main prize.

It was the 22nd year of the event and the third time it had been sponsored by BP and Sullom Voe Terminal.

The action began last Friday evening with the raising of the marquee and a gentle touch rugby tournament, to stretch off tired limbs and give some of the younger and new players a chance to run through some practices and moves in preparation for the big competition on Sat­urday.

ST26 rugby 01

Shetland’s Maurice Williamson bursts clear against Orkney.
Photo: Kevin Jones

Concerns about the unseasonal weather soon vanished as Saturday developed into a perfect day for the cut-down game – cool, refreshing and brisk.

The main tournament was run as a six-team round robin event, after a late call off from an Aberdeen team and an epidemic of a stomach bug running through the SVT (Sullom Voe Terminal) and SRT (Shetland Recreational Trust) teams. The two agreed to amalgamate, and played under the name of the HRTs.

At that point, before a ball had been kicked, the favourites were expected to be the young, fast team from Orkney – runners-up last time – or the young fast team from Shetland. The dark horses on the day were the Inverness Leisure Team who, according to rumour, was made up of sevens specialists. The other teams hoping to upset the form book were the Shetland Baa Baas and the Xiles – a team of Shetland students studying on the mainland. An exciting day was in prospect.

ST26 rugby 02Baa-Baa Lincoln Carroll drags down his Orkney opponent.
Photo: Kevin Jones

The tournament kicked off at noon and, with only seven minutes each way and with the games controlled in an excellent spirit by referees Paul Woods, Chris Hamer and Wayne Leslie, the first part of the afternoon seemed to fly by.

Each team would have to play all the other teams, so there were five rounds of games to be played. At the end of three rounds the team points were: Orkney on nine; Inverness on five; Shetland Select on nine; the Xiles on three; the Baa Baas on seven; and the HRTs on three. At this point the early favourites were shining through, Inverness were having less impact than expected and the Shetland Baa Baas were forging ahead into contention.

The tournament took a well-earned break then, to welcome the nine visiting Jarl’s Squads to this rugby extravaganza. Many of them had never witnessed this form of rugby, and many a hardy Viking was seen, with burger and refreshment in hand, leaning on the fence and admiring the effort and skills on show.

With the fourth round of games completed, Orkney and the Shetland Select were still on track for a grandstand final, and the Baa Baas and Inverness were still locked in battle for third and fourth places.

The final round saw Inverness cruise past the Xiles, to end on nine points, and perhaps rueing their weaker performances in rounds two, three and four. Meanwhile the Baa Baas had to beat the Harts to clinch that vital third place ahead of the visitors from Inverness.

The HRT team put on a spirited performance but their lack of experience and guile was their Achilles heel. The Baa Baas cruised past them to finish on 11 points, and third in the tournament.

As if it had all been planned, the last match was between Orkney and Shetland. With both teams on full points so far something had to give.

ST26 rugby 03Orkney got the line-out lifting down to a fine art.
Photo: Kevin Jones

Right away Orkney got into their stride. The play was end to end, with lung-bursting effort from both teams, but the final whistle went with Orkney coming out winners by 24-7.

Club president Forbes Hogg said a few words to the crowd, offered a vote of thanks to the referees, BP who sponsored the weekend, and all those behind the scenes for all their hard work to make the event such a success, with hopefully more to come on Sunday.

ST26 rugby 04The winning Orkney team.
Photo: Kevin Jones

He then asked Mike Killeen, a club member as well as the deputy manager at SVT and the representative from BP, to present the trophy to the jubilant Orkney players and say a few words. A presentation dinner and reception event was held at Clickimin, and then all the players and fans moved on to the legendary rugby sevens disco to perform a suitable ‘warm down’ as all true athletes should.

Sunday dawned cold, wet and windy, and did not augur well for the junior match, the traditional survivors game and the sports events that were organised. As the wind and rain increased, the decision was made to hold over the junior matches till later in the summer, and to expand the event into a 10-a-side tournament, along the same lines as the adult event. Paul Woods will be in touch with the juniors in a few weeks. So keep up your fitness levels, boys.

With the rest of the afternoon spent huddling round the barbecue for warmth and lashing the marquee down, the visiting teams wended their way to the boat for the trip home, and now the SRFC committee starts early preparations for next year’s event.

The club would like to express its sincere thanks again to BP and NorthLink for their support of the event.

If anyone is interested in the sevens version of the game, or the full-size version, summer training is moving back to Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6.30pm, starting on Thursday, 26th June.

Check www.shetlandrugby.com for all the latest news and details in the guestbook.


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