The Bournemouth 7s Elite Women’s Tournament culminated in a stunning final between the Wooden Spoons and the Moody Cows, two invitational sides full of the highest calibre of women’s rugby sevens players that play for charity.
For those of you familiar with the England women’s sevens circuit will know that Wooden Spoons have been one of the strongest women’s sevens teams around for the last two years, so the Moody Cows had very strong competition to face.
To put it to perspective the standard of the rugby final, the Women’s England Development Squad played the Wooden Spoons the week before the Bournemouth Sevens competition and lost to them.
Yet, the teams were quite evenly matched throughout the electrifying final, which took on the main pitch of the festival.
With less than a minute to go the Wooden Spoons were ahead and set to take the win, but the Moody Cow’s spirit and determination did not waiver. In the dying seconds of the match Mandy Marchak (Canadian Sevens Captain and Saracens RFC), put in the gas and beat out two defending players, giving the Moody Cows another win at Bournemouth 7s (see video above at 1:21).
“We wore our heart on our sleeve and we literally have gone out there and thrown everything at it,” Zira Handley (England Rugby Development and Saracens RFC) said.
Handley herself had a great performance throughout the tournament scoring the opening try of the final within the first minute of the match where she ran the length of the pitch so beat out defenders through great pace (see video above at 1:27).
The Moody Cows were coached this year for the first time by the ever popular Maggie Alphonsi (England International and Saracens RFC), who accompanied the team last year but served as what she describes as a “skivvy that ran the bottles on”. This year her role was much more official and she was ever-present on the sidelines directing the girls and celebrating in their wins.
“It has been really good weekend”, Alphonsi said, “I’m really proud.”
By all accounts the weekend was full of social fun for the girls, but the competition was tough as they faced four matches on the first day and two matches on the second with all of the same players.
Yet, the team played with complete dedication and enthusiasm throughout the competition led by Moody Cows Captain Clare Denison and Team Manager Louise Stewart, who first started the team in 2004 with former player and founding member, Kay Booker.
Tragically in 2009 Booker lost her brave battle against breast cancer at the age of 39. Since then Stewart and the other members of the team have continued to play under the name of Moody Cows in her honour.
Last year they affiliated with Macmillan Cancer, which they have now adopted as their official charity. This was both in memory of Booker and also due to the number of Moody Cows, past and present, who have been affected by cancer. Since then Moody Cow players have devoted their efforts to fundraising as much as possible through prize money and other volunteering efforts for the charity.
“So many members of the Moody Cows squad have been affected by cancer, with the loss of family, friends and loved ones. Affiliating officially with Macmillan Cancer Support gives us a great opportunity to give something back to a charity that does so much fantastic work”, Stewart said.
Watching the Moody Cows play and hearing the players speak about the team I was truly inspired. These women are true athletes and great role models. The ethos of the team is that “you play hard and you drink hard” according to Denison, and this spirit can be seen in every match that these women play.
“Last night we were drinking [and] dancing until 1 o’clock. [Today] we came out and we left our shirt and our heart on that pitch,” Denison said.
The team travels to tournaments all over the UK and players run marathons and participate in a variety of other sporting events and Macmillan fundraisers to raise money for Macmillan Cancer.
Current players in the squad include England’s Maggie Alphonsi, Sophie Hemming, Hannah Gallagher and Amber Reed, Irish 7s International Rachael Potter, Canadian International Mandy Marchak and rising stars on the UK circuit such as Kay Wilson, Bex Hughes, Zira Hanley and Poppy Cleall.
Last year the Moody Cows had the most successful year to date with wins at Lytchett 7s, Kay’s Cary 7s, Bournemouth 7s and the Stockholm International Tens, and as finalists at the Dubai International 7s in the Open Women’s division.
Impressively, over the past two years the Moody Cows have raised over £7,000!
To continue their fundraising efforts, they will be participating in the Tough Guy challenge on July 17th in Wolverhampton in exactly one month.
Their goal is to bring their total fundraising to £9,000, so they have a little less than £2,000 left to raise.
Now this competition is properly intense. It is described as follows: “The original and toughest test of its kind anywhere in the World…You will need every last ounce of mental and physical strength you can muster to rise to this challenge. Your fear of heights, tight spaces, fire, water and electricity will be tested to the max. Everyone bar the very toughest will be beaten!” Check out more information here.
The Moody Cows have set up a Macmillan tribute page where all donations are made and where supporters can follow their fundraising efforts. You can find it here.
Please do consider making a donation.
In the meantime, I am happy to say that I am now a fan and will be supporting the Moody Cows in future competitions and fundraising efforts. Mooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Photos of Moody Cows from Bournemouth 7s
For more information about the Moody Cows please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.moodycowsrugby.com