The 2016 Hen Sevens
Entrants for the 2016 Hen Sevens include:
Harpenden Bad Habbits
Harpbury Bad Belles
50th anniversary of the Pub Sevens celebrated at Harpenden RFC with inclusion of the Inaugural Hen Sevens
Main Final: Wooden Spoon Marauders 12 Apache Raiders 40
With the advent of rugby's World Cup in September, Harpenden's annual seven-a-side tournament may have escaped the attention of the general public but among the cognoscenti it still rates as a competition of high quality sport for the top sides and, for the ordinary club player, a fun day out.
This year proved to be no exception, a time when the organising committee was over-seeing the 50th official year since the idea of 7s rugby being played on a Sunday was proposed by the original founders, Mike Parke and Reg Johnson. The latter, who was formerly the landlord of the Cross Keys, Harpenden, has sadly died; happily, Mike Parke still survives to tell the story in fostering this famous event from its humble beginnings to the present day.
With the weather ideal for those who don't enjoy playing under a hot, Summer's sun the early games produced the usual fun and drama in equal measure. Every team that had promised to turn up for the event did so and the added bonus was, as the event's commentator constantly reminded us, that the forecast rain had stayed away.
In the final of the main competition a strong team from the Apache Raiders beat the Wooden Spoon Marauders (who in the previous round had defeated the highly regarded British Army squad) by 40 points to 12 with tries from Sam Bellhouse; David Massey; Perry Jansen; Howard Graham; and, Rubin Norville. In the earlier semi-final match against the German National Team - Deutschland - a marker had already been set when the Apaches won by 34 points without reply, which was a resounding result as Deutschland seem to have already qualified for the World Series in Hong Kong next year leapfrogging Wales and Portugal.
The rise in German Rugby is a lesson for all; their management have only 14,000 players to pick from whereas there are 25,000 soccer clubs in their country and because of the lack of club facilities the boys are coached at 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning before going to school. They are in no rush to succeed, however, and will gradually improve under coach Chad, who is a New Zealander, and Manuel their Team Manager.
This year it was decided that a separate Women's Competition should be staged which proved to be a bonus. One of the prime movers here was Scarlet Cooper-Wall whose brother played hooker for HRFC; Scarlet propped for England Under 20s when she was 17. Using her contacts as a coach and colleague to some of the players, Scarlet was able to bring to the club people such as Alex and Fran Matthews; Sarah McKenna; and, Fiona Davidson - International standard players.
The final match in this group was played between Welwyn Wild Flowers and the Wooden Spoon Marauders (Women). In an exciting competition in which several International players had featured the Marauders proved to be the best team on the day with their top scorer Eloise Bloomfield scoring twice with some outstanding running. Their opposition replied through tries from Lotte Clapp and Courtney Arberry, the final score being Welwyn 12 Wooden Spoon 24.
Well, how was it for you? The committee is considering answers to their questionnaire regarding the future of the event: should it be bigger; expanded; take place earlier in the season? Such questions will be addressed fairly soon. On the one hand some say the format is 'old hat' but on the other side of the coin the German Team Manager, for example, thinks the current set-up is ideal because it is predominantly a rugby event with no distractions on the side. Who knows? One thing is certain and that is that the women's side of rugby is becoming more interesting and it is expected the committee will encourage their numbers to grow.
This year's tournament organiser, Bob Barltrop, was the first to express his thanks to his fellow committee members for their contribution towards making the day worthwhile before adding: "Everything has gone like clockwork today and the standard of rugby has been extremely high. "And, the day wouldn't be the same without teams such as Matt Peck's the Bat Fastards and their flying wedge. Also worth a mention is Peter Woodthorpe's son, Anthony, a player and referee and a member of Sherrards Assassins. Former St Columba's schoolboy and Cheltenham Tigers member, Anthony is hoping to perform well at the Dubai Sevens and other venues in the coming months. Good luck!"
He also wished Peter Doyle, the former landlord of the White Hart at Eversley, a happy retirement on having sold his pub.
Finally, he said the club wished to thank their sponsors and all those punters who generously donated their time and money towards the Joining Jack auction, all of whose proceeds went towards alleviating the pain and suffering of all those suffering from the incurable condition Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. England Coach, Andy Farrell merits a big 'Thank You' for his generosity here in donating some of the prizes and Will Hutchins and his lovely wife for their support.
All in all, the day was a resounding success and even the presence of a barely clad female rushing across the first-team pitch during one of the finals did not detract from the overall effect. A translation of Chairman Darren Francey's comments relating to this incident can be obtained from all local newsagents.
Main Final: Wooden Spoon Marauders 12 Apache Raiders 40
Plate Final: St Albans Voodoo Priests 7 Find Rugby Now 12
Barrel Final: Harpenden Roosters 26 Apache Chiefs 12
Welwyn Wild Flowers 12 Wooden Spoon Marauders 24