ENGLAND and Saracens winger David Strettle was the star attraction at Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club’s successful ULR Premier International Rugby Sevens festival on Sunday.
More than 2,000 people braved the drizzly conditions to witness a feat of rugby featuring sides from Premiership giants Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints.
But established sevens side Samurai Barracudas retained their title at the Haberden with a 45-14 success over Templars 7 in the final before accepting the trophy from the event which is part of the Super Sevens Series, from Strettle himself.
The Saints winger took time out from mingling with the crowd to chat to the Bury Free Press about a range of topics, including this video about how he came to be the guest of honour at the event, due to his link with Bury’s former England Sevens manager Terry Sands.
The Barracudas were coached by former Australia Sevens player Tim Walsh and were 19-0 up at half-time in the final, having seen off HFW Wailers 26-19 in their semi-final and Apache 27-14 in the quarter-final.
The plate of the main competition, for Super Sevens Series sides, was won by Leicester Tigers, who triumphed 24-19 over Ramblin Jesters in the final.
The open competition was won by the country’s oldest side, Blackheath.
Northampton Saints, who were defeated 19-14 by Templars 7 in the sem-final with the last play of the game, included England Sevens exciting talent Noah Cato in their line-up as well as Russian World Cup player Vasily Artemyev.
Organiser Mike Robinson hailed the day as a great success, despite the persistent drizzle that was in contrast to the blue skies of last year’s event, where England took part in the competition as a warm-up for their IRB World Series.
In total, 50 matches were played during Sunday’s event, with Bury Wolverines not able to make it out of the group stage in the Open Cup but won one of their three matches, not doing enough in their decider with Southend Beebarians to progress. Ipswich were unable to win any of their three matches, though all of their games were narrow defeats.
* FOR an extended interview with Strettle on his thoughts on the new England coach and the importance of professional players coming to events at amateur clubs, and an exclusive interview with Noah Cato, see Friday’s Bury Free Press.