Sevens reaches new level with super start to series

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BURY ULR Sevens organiser Mike Robinson hailed the work of the club’s 140-plus volunteers for hosting a ‘fantastic event’ to kick off the 2012 Super Sevens Series in style.

The club’s playing chairman believed managing to host the tournament as part of one of four legs of the Sevens world’s recently-started developmental series helped take the quality on show at Bury to a new level.

Around 2,000 people flooded into The Haberden on Sunday despite the persistent drizzly weather, making the attendance only around 100 down on a baking hot weekend when the England Sevens side turned out last year.

But they were glad they braved the inclement conditions, as the crowds were treated to a feast of thrilling rugby, including guest appearances from Premiership giants Leicester City and Northampton Saints.

England winger David Strettle spent six hours at the club as their guest of honour just hours after his Saracens presentation dinner and posed for countless photos with Bury youngsters before presenting the main trophy to Samurai Barracudas, who retained their title.

Robinson paid a special tribute to the work of an army of club volunteers whose detailed preparations meant the day ran smoothly and received widespread praise from professional players, including Strettle himself.

“It is a massive team effort to put on an event like this, a huge number of volunteers from the club all do exceptional work in the weeks running up to it and on the day,” he said. “And I really need to put a big thank you out to all those volunteers who do it for the love of the game, love of the club and love of local sport – together we have produced a fantastic event.”

He added: “I think it has gone as well as could be expected, considering the weather, and exceeded expectations because the crowd has been similar to last year when it was a hot sunny day. So in terms of how people have responded to the event, we are very pleased with it.”

Samurai Barracudas, a developmental side for the esteemed Samurai International of whom Bury’s director of rugby Terry Sands was a founder member, romped to 45-14 win over Templars in the final, having led 19-0 at half-time.

But many of the games, such as Templars 19-14 semi-final win over Northampton Saints, with the winning score coming in the last play of the game, were close affairs and Robinson believes the standard of rugby over 50 games was exceptional.

“I think the quality of rugby this year has actually been even better than last year,” he said. “Although last year we had the England team in, the Super Sevens Series teams which have a lot of professional players in them have raised the standards even further.

“There has been some outstanding rugby – guys who are on the verge of getting into the England side now, like Noah Cato, playing for the (Northampton) Saints, is in the England Saxons side and could be playing for England anytime soon.”

He also added his thanks to England and Saracens winger Strettle saying: “It is good to see the England players mingling with the public and actually being part of the community and wanting to take an interest in local rugby.”