Men’s Open Competition
The Bryanston Old Boys were back at their home tournament this year where they faced off against Bournemouth RFC in the final to win the Open Tournament for a second time.
The Old Boys have has a good track record at the tournament having won the competition in 2010 and making the finals in 2011 and 2009 and the semi-finals in 2008.
This year the team had one of their strongest teams to date and armed with Richie Pugh as coach (Wales 7’s Captain) they were a force to be reckoned with.
The Bryanston Old Boys’ first game was up against their good friends the Flair Bears, who the Old Boys knew well from previous competitions.
In the first few minutes of the game the Old Boy’s poor defence led to the Flair Bears scoring the first try of the match, which was the shock the Old Boys needed to get focussed and get their heads into the game. The Old Boys responded quickly with a nice link up between Willy Hafu and Joel Vinnicombe, who crossed the line to make it 7-5.
Throughout the match the Old Boys benefited from a very strong scrum with Adrian Griffiths, Willy Hafu and Nsa Harrison, which complemented the pace of their backs and allowed the Old Boys to score two more tries in quick succession in the first half making it 12-7.
The second half saw some good defence from both sides, which led the score to stay at 12-7 for the majority of the half.
However, in the last minute of the game the Flair Bears went on the attack and with just one man to beat they tried to chip the ball over Willy Hafu’s head, who caught it and sprinted in for the try making the final score 17-7 to the Old Boys.
NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY/THE TRAINING ROOM
The Old Boys’ next game was supposed to be against Newcastle University RFC but they were a no show, so the Old Boys played a team that was put together called “The Training Room”.
The Old Boys knew nothing about the team, so they didn’t know what to expect but with some wise words and intense training drills from Richie Pugh the Old Boys were slowly starting to play like a team and they were quietly confident.
In the end, the Old Boys managed to score six tries to nil with the likes of Innes Willingale, Barney Nelson and Mike Marsh coming of the bench to score throughout the match.
THE SWAZILAND SKRUM 7s
The Old Boy’s last group game was against Swaziland Skrum 7s. At this point the team was tweaked slightly to bring in Sam Katz at centre as him and Joel Vinncombe were forming a great partnership at fly-half and centre with Tom Brown providing pace on the wing.
The Old Boys dominated the first half scoring four tries before half-time with Jamie Gibbs as skipper from 9 showing his experience.
Following some changes for the Old Boys at half-time they started to lose their form a bit and Swaziland 7s were able to score two tries early on, but with some great defence from Huw Bevan and Charlie Perry and Mike Marsh’s speed the Old Boys narrowly managed to stay on top winning 24-19.
This victory meant that they were top of their group after day one.
Day 2 was a straight knock out competition where the Old Boys’ first game up was against Prison Pirates who came 2nd in their group (of 3 teams).
The Old Boys started very strong as the players started coming together as a team and the Old Boys won this encounter by six tries to one with Tom Brown, Charlie Perry and Barney Nelson showing their speed throughout the match.
THE SHARKS (SEMI-FINAL)
Next up was the semi-final against a strong Welsh side called The Sharks. Richie Pugh had advised the team that they had a couple of Wales 7’s boys who were dangerous, so they were ready for a challenging match.
Yet, the Old Boys displayed a strong performance in what was probably their best game of the tournament. The Old Boys denied The Sharks any possession throughout the whole of the match and used their “not so secret weapon” Nsa (junior) Harrison to his full potential. In this photo you can see him sucking in 5 players.
In the end the Old Boys won this semi-final with a score of 27-0 setting up an eagerly awaited final against their old and local rivals Bournemouth RFC who the Old Boys lost out to in the final in 2009.
BOURNEMOUTH RFC (FINAL)
A large crows gathered to watch the Open Tournament final between the Old Boys and Bournemouth RFC, which was held on the showcase pitch.
The pressure was on and Bournemouth RFC kicked off strongly by putting the first points on the board with a well worked try. The Old Boys quickly replied with a score of their own through gas man Tom Brown, who showed his pace by beating his opposite number to make it 7-5 with a good conversion from Sam Katz.
This got the boys fired up and they scored another two tries before half-time to give them a nice buffer into the second half. The Old Boys continued their dominance throughout the match, which was sealed with a last-minute swan dive (with questionable form) from Jamie Gibbs to seal the win.
unfortunately, Joel Vinnicombe broke his ankle in the final and we wish him a speedy recovery. By all accounts he was one of the strongest Old Boys players during the weekend.
The team would like to thank Richie Pugh for his vast 7’s knowledge coaching as well as their team motivator Lee Bevan and managers Jack Helsby and John Willingale.
Old Boys Bournemouth Sevens Team Sheet
1. Joel Vinnicombe
2. Sam Katz
3. Tom Brown
4. Willy Hafu
5. Charlie Perry
6. Nsa Harrison
7. Barney Nelson
8. Innes Willingale
9. Huw Bevan
10. Jamie Gibbs
11. Adrian Griffiths
12. Mike Marsh