September 30, 2008
Organisers of the Suffolk Youth Sevens hailed the event an outstanding success after 600 young players in five age groups got together on the fields of the Royal Hospital School last Sunday (September 28).
The annual competition - which attracted 57 teams from 12 clubs in categories from Under 13s to U17s - is in its third year, having been the brainchild of Ross Cowie, chairman of youth rugby at the Suffolk RFU and Colchester RFC.
"We believe it is one of the biggest rugby community events in the country," said Cowie, after the day's action watched by around 600 parents and supporters on the RHS's nine "immaculate" pitches with a scenic view of the River Orwell.
"The school give the event every encouragement by providing the facilities for free," said Cowie. "They even print the programmes for us.
"We charge each team �10 just to cover the provision of referees, physiotherapists and trophies.
"Part of the idea is to give small clubs with junior sections who might struggle to get 15-a-side fixtures a kick-start to their season by playing sevens and I think it did just that."
Cowie inaugurated the Suffolk Youth Sevens with the co-operation of Paul Hardman, director of rugby at the RHS, and there has been valuable help from Don Topley, the former Essex cricketer who is the school's sports coordinator as well as being a former pupil.
The Rugby Football Union's Eastern Counties rugby development officer Lee Adamson was in attendance as Colchester RFC carried off the main Trophy in each of the five age groups.
But there was success too among the smaller clubs in the Plate and Shield competitions for those knocked out of trophy contention.
Southwold reached the final of the Under 17s, Haverhill won the U14s Shield, Woodbridge took the U14s Plate and Stowmarket carried off the U13s Plate.
The other clubs involved were Bury, Clacton, Diss, Hadleigh, Harwich, Ipswich and Sudbury.
"Some clubs sent one team, others sent two or more, but every one who had an age group team took part and in return they were guaranteed a minimum four games each," said Cowie.
"I cannot thank the Royal Hospital School enough for their help in this totally self-funding event. Their groundsman even went round taking the dew off the grass before we started!"