North Walsham Sevens is another big hit
- Credit: Archant
The showers that spread over North Walsham's ground at Scottow on Sunday afternoon did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of either the nearly 1,000 spectators nor the 15 teams competing in the men's competition and four women's teams.
A gripping men's final saw Colchester-based Wise Monkeys take an early two try lead against the much fancied Rangers 7s, who had travelled from Staffordshire. This gave the Essex side sufficient margin that they maintained, to take the much coveted Jill Hambling Cup and a cheque for £750, the runners-up pocketing £250.
In the Plate competition, the Olney Rascals overhauled the Stowmartians, with the finalists winning £350 and £150 respectively.
The women's competition for the George Campbell Shield and £350 was played by four teams, the talented Harwich & Dovercourt Owls showing considerable class to take the honours despite the best efforts of runners- up, the Woodbridge Amazons.
Losing semi-inalists were from Lakenham & Hewett and Wymondham Wasps.
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The competition attracted sevens teams from all over East Anglia and as far away as London, the East Midlands and the south coast, and provided a whole day of rugby entertainment, including an exhibition of the growing sport of touch rugby during the lunch break.
Locally based sides the Charolais Bulls, previous winners Sydney Knights and Aquila 7s were joined in the quarter-finals by the Newtown Jets, Low Fat Milk and, from Brighton, the Wide Boys.
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Matt Purling, one of the event organisers, said: 'Rugby Sevens is all about fun and the whole event had a party atmosphere, helped by live music from a steel band, a bungee run and Leicester Tigers' tackle challenge, and of course the Norfolk beer festival.
'There were some brilliant performances and a very high standard of sevens rugby on the day. It was great to see so many teams, including from local clubs like Norwich, Wymondham and Holt. The Walsham Sevens is increasingly being seen as one of the great sevens tournaments that are played all round the country throughout the summer. Many of the teams have already said they'll be back next year and we look forward to seeing them again.'
An attempt at a world record 'boat race' competition was held to raise money and awareness of the Stay Strong Stu charity for 25-year old Tynedale RFC player, Stu Ridley, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in February and whose condition has grabbed the attention of the whole rugby community.
The North Walsham Sevens next year will be on Sunday, May 29, 2016.