Rugby Rocks, a sports and music festival which launched in 2010, took place this past weekend in Richmond, London, for the third year in a row.
Like some other rugby festivals (e.g.Bournemouth 7s), the idea of the event is to fuse together sporting competition with live music and create a great festival-like atmosphere.
On the competition side, there were over 130 teams participating in this year’s event with thousands of sportsmen and women competing in rugby sevens, 10s, touch rugby and netball tournaments.
Below please find a write-up of the men’s and women’s Elite tournaments, an event review and photos from the day.
Men’s Elite 7s Tournament
The men’s Elite tournament was dominated by a very strong and fast Army 7s team, which came to the tournament with a determination to win having finished as runners-up in the previous year’s tournament.
Army easily secured a win in their first match in pool C when their first opposition, Loughborough Students, failed to show (they were stuck in traffic). According to the Army website,
“Rather than let the opportunity go to waste the management decided to use this as a training match to blow away any cobwebs and run some drills, so Army A in red faced Army B in white”.
Their efforts were rewarded with a as a 28-0 win as according to the tournament rules, since Loughborough Students missed the kick-off.
Army went on to a ruthless 50-0 win against Help for Heroes Wolfpack 7s in their second pool game and another convincing 47-0 win against the West Country Cavaliers in the quarter-finals.
The semi-finals saw the Army play their long-time friends and rivals, Esther RFC, for what was a very exciting match. In the end, Army’s strong defense denied Esther RFC a win and Army came out the stronger team with a 17-7 final score.
In a very well attended men’s elite cup final, Army was joined by the Kirk Petro Pyrenees, a French side, which had impressed fans all day with their speed and skill. Despite a strong attack by the Pyrenees at the start of the match the Army defense was stronger and withstood Pyrenees pressure until Ben Seru managed to cross the line to give Army a 5-0 lead. With newly gained confidence, Army attacked and with half-time approaching the tries flowed so that Army went into the half leading 24-0.
The second-half saw the Pyrenees continue to apply pressure but Army managed to capitalise on Pyrenees’ mistakes to make it 31-0. The Pyrenees came back fighting and managed to put 5 on the board, but Army came made it 36-5 with 3 minutes to play. The Pyrenees would not go down without a fight and the French team managed to get another 7 points from hard work and determination. But Army were determined to finish on a high and Army Captain Wes Wessels crossed the line one more time to make the full-time score 42-12 to the Army. All in all, the final did not disappoint as both teams put on a great show for the crowd.
Women’s Elite 7s Scrumqueens Tournament
Irish Lightning, composed of players from the Irish National side, beat out the defending champions, Wooden Spons, to win the Elite title 26-14 after some very strong performances against Wales and Austria earlier in the tournament and a win over Scotland in the semi-finals.
This year’s tournament featured eight very strong teams, including: (1) Injured Players Foundation, an English player development side; (2) Scottish Select, the Scottish side; (3) Austria; (4) RAF Pumas; (5); Wales; (6) Norway; (7) Irish Lightening and (8) the Wooden Spoons, the defending champions.
Irish Lightning has a very strong performance in the final with players like Lynne Cantwell and Joy Neville putting in excellent performances to help the Irish secure the win.
The Irish squad looked strong having come off the back of the Amsterdam 7s, which was their first siginificant step on the road to qualification for the IRB Sevens World Cup.
According to Scrumqueens, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Norway used the tournament as preparation for the upcoming FIRA AER World Cup qualifiers in Belgium.
At 3pm everyone gathered in front of the big screen to support local side Harlequins in the Premiership Final against Leicester, which made for a really great atmosphere, and everyone at the festival cheered with pride when Harlequins raised the cup as the Premiership Champions.
Rugby Rocks is about competitive sport as well as the social side of the game. As the sun went down, rivals on the pitch became friends at the bar celebrating the day and enjoying the live music together – showing that rugby really does bring people together.
This year’s music was provided by Goldilocks, Benji Boko and headliner Zane Lowe. The festival ended with a dj set from Bath Rugby star Olly Barkley.
Everyone left a little sunburnt, bruised and tired from the high quality rugby and dancing the night away. I know I will be back next year.
By: Kate Mills and Ellaine Gelman
Photos by Scrumpix