Navy Referees In Historic Twickenham Occasion
Paul Burton and Roger Baileff, both members of the RNRU's Referee Society, were part of the team of RFU match officials chosen to keep order at the inaugural World Club Sevens. With the sevens game continuing to grow in popularity, partly driven by its impending debut at the 2016 Rio Olympics, it is very likely that in the years to come this event will be played in sell out stadiums around the world. If it does Paul and Roger will be able to regale the ‘dits' about the first ever tournament!
Far more than the XV-a-side game, the sevens version is a truly world affair and it was therefore no surprise that the three trophies, being competed for, ended up in three different continents. The bowl was won by Russian side Kuban Krasnador who beat South Africa's Vodafone Blue Bulls 19-12 in the final. The Plate crossed the Atlantic to New York. This time it was home team Gloucester who were defeated 33-14, a slightly disappointing end to a Gloucester side who had topped their group.
The event's final was an all Southern Hemisphere affair with New Zealand's Auckland taking on Australia's Brumbies. Earlier in the year the Brumbies had made the Super 15 final only to narrowly miss out. It look as if history was going to repeat itself as the final entered its final throws with Auckland holding a slender lead, fair reward for their excellent play through out the tournament. However with the last throw of the dice Brumbies Henry Speight split the Auckland defence for the deciding score. 17-14.
If there had been an award for sheer team spirit and determination then that would also probably have gone to the Brumbies. In their quarter final they were trailing Moscow 12-5 when they had a player sent off for a dangerous tackle. With less than half the match gone to face the prospect of retrieving a game a man short in the sevens game is a massive challenge to over come. The game should be taped and shown to anyone who what to appreciate what it means to play for your team, as the Brumbies remaining 6 players worked their socks off as they turned the match around and sneaked the win.
During the first day of the tournament there had been further Service involvement when the Army Sevens took on the Barbarians. The Barbarians team was selected through an innovative X-Factor style trial but were unable to match the superior teamwork of the Army side who won 14-5.