Music, sun, food and drink, international teams and great rugby were all on offer this weekend at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens rugby, for the inaugural Sevens and the City multi-sport festival.
The newly laid 3G pitch was baking in glorious British sun in July as Allianz Park hosted rugby tournaments for all abilities, from international to social, alongside netball, cross-fit competitions and great music.
The event is the brainchild of Saracens’ very own David Strettle and Matt Stevens as the pair longed to “combine their three favourite things: rugby, food and a little bit of wine,” as Matt so aptly put on the day.
With rugby sevens fever sweeping the nation this summer, more than any other year, the short form of the game was at the heart of the day’s entertainment. Five competitions took place across six pitches on the day, including a social, open, elite and women’s competitions alongside the pinnacle of the day – the men’s international.
Whilst sevens festivals are taking shape all across the country, with more this year than ever, the international circuit traditionally finishes with the Twickenham Sevens in London. New Zealand lifted the season’s trophy on that day; however, this year there is one more international showdown on the calendar – the Commonwealth Games.
Rugby Sevens has been a part of the Games for the previous four tournaments, debuting in 1998 in Malaysia and New Zealand have won every tournament since its inception.
With just a couple of weeks left before some of the biggest names in rugby sevens travel to Scotland, some of the teams had one last competition left on their calendar’s – Sevens and the City.
England, Scotland, Wales, Papua New Guinea and Barbados, who will all feature in Glasgow, took part in the international competition alongside Germany and sevens regulars the Wailers and Apache.
All of the sides battled hard throughout a fantastic day of summer sevens, with each side giving a great account of their selves and their talent.
Some of the biggest players on the World Sevens circuit featured in the England, Wales and Scottish teams, with the significant arrival of Scottish full internationals Stuart Hogg and Sean Lamont – who have been added to the Scotland sevens set-up for the Commonwealth Games.
Hogg’s side had a tough run of the group stages early on as they beat Germany but then lost to the Wailers in an incredible turn up for the books. The invitational side managed to work their way round and through the international side and record a famous victory.
However, a determined and powerful return from the Scots against Wales saw them book their place in the final with England, who were perfect throughout the group stages with convincing wins over the Apache, Papua New Guinea and Barbados.
In a gruelling final that boasted some of the best rugby sevens action available, it was England who came out on top with a closely-fought 12-10 victory.
The men in white will take a large amount of confidence from the tournament up to Glasgow with them as they try to knock New Zealand off their golden perch at the Commonwealth Games.
Talking Rugby Union spoke to England Head Coach Simon Amor, who reiterated the success of the Sevens and the City tournament and how important it is to England.
“It’s certainly a fantastic tournament,” Simon confirmed, “certainly in terms of our preparation for the Commonwealth Games in a few weeks’ time, the opportunity to play against some other international teams.
“To be stressed in a different way to what we are used to day in day out in training and to be part of a multi-sport event like this – it’s fantastic preparation for us.”
Elsewhere in the day’s rugby there were a number of other teams who enjoyed fantastic success at Sevens and the City…
In the Men’s Elite competition it was the Samurai Bulldogs who took the spoils over the Esher Golden Lions in another close-fought final.
In the Women’s Cup competition it was the home side Saracens who emerged on top, whereas in the Men’s Cup the Cobras lifted the trophy after they beat the Seventy 7’s in another enthralling final.
Finally, in the Men’s Social competition, the biggest of the day with 24 teams taking part across four Pools, Bytes Typhoons were the team to beat as they lifted the trophy on the first team pitch.
The entire day was an incredible success as netballers, rugby players, athletes, spectators and some of the Saracens players all enjoyed the atmosphere and sports.
With thousands of players and fans converging on Allianz Park for the inaugural year of the event, the day was a true testament to the fantastic organisation of Dave Strettle, Matt Stevens and the entire Saracens staff.
It is clear to see that the Sevens and the City multi-sport festival will enjoy a long tenure at the home of Saracens with tremendous success along the way.