Scorching 7s at Macclesfield

By David Wilkinson

Friday evening and Saturday saw the second iteration of the annual Macclesfield 7s Tournament. Friday evening kicked-off with a mini Walking Rugby contest. 4 teams played each other, in a pool contest, ably refereed by Jerry Frain and John Harries; keeping us all in check for back-chat, running and over-robust play. It was decided, due to tired legs, that the final would be dispensed with, everyone retiring for pies and pints in the Sin Bin Bar. The Almogavers Barbarians RFC had travelled from Barcelona to take part in the tournament, joining in with the Friday evening fun – not the best preparation for a day of 7s rugby in the sun!

The main event on Saturday attracted a number of eclectic teams made up from Cheshire club players as well as the Yorkshire Terriers; the winners from 2021, North Wales Exiles were defending their title with a strong squad; and the club sides were represented by newly promoted Stockport and Macclesfield, with a squad from King’s School Old Boys. The Ladies competition was played out with teams from Macclesfield, Broughton Park and Crewe and Nantwich.

The Men’s Tournament was structured from two pools of matches, the top two placed teams going into the semi-finals, with the third placed teams playing off for the Plate Competition; but first up in the finals would be Broughton Park v Crewe and Nantwich for the Women’s Cup.

The winning ladies from Broughton Park

The Broughton Park ladies had all the early pressure, scoring three converted tries, but the Crewe and Nantwich team hit back, when they managed to get the ball to their ‘flyer’. Park would have too much pace throughout their team, scoring 4 tries to two, to take the cup back to Hough End.

The first of the semi-finals was played out between Stockport and Macclesfield, the first of the ‘bragging-rights’ contests between these long-standing rivals. Stockport had looked a very well drilled team, well orchestrated by their playmaker, and scoring 23 tries in the pool stage. In contrast the Macclesfield team was made up of mainly 2nd team players, but featuring Kai Fagon, recently signed from Burnage; Kai is a 6’ 4” second row but looked far from out of place playing 7s. It was a nip-and-tuck affair, with Macc not allowing Stockport to get into their game, the final few minutes saw the home team pull away to win 19-5.

Sons of Lazarus, Myles Hall, grappling with the North Wales Exiles in the semi-final

The 2nd semi-final was played out between Sons of Lazarus v North Wales Exiles. The holders took an early lead going two scores up. But Miles Hall’s eclectic group, featuring Macclesfield’s Oliver twins Harry and James hit-back, until the scores were level at 19 each with a minute to play. The Exiles team was full of power and pace and once they were able to break the line, they were uncatchable, which would be the case for the final score to send them into the final.

The Plate Final would see the local lads from King’s School Old Boys take on the Yorkshire Terriers. Macclesfield and King’s old boy, Matt Thorp, had got on the score-sheet in the Pool round, which he must have been chuffed about, as it is probably the last time he will play at Priory Park, for some time, as he heads off to the Far East to further his teaching career. It was highly competitive rugby, with the teams trading tries until the Terriers edged in front before the final whistle to take the Plate 22-15.

Plate winners Yorkshire Terriers

It was no surprise to see North Wales Exiles in the Final; their rugby had been as dazzling as their multi-coloured shirts. In contrast Macclesfield’s progression surprised many of the supporters, but was most welcome. It would also be a final performance for 2nd team Player of the Year, Evan Wynn, who also flies-off to far-flung, fields of rugby. Although Macclesfield were without their speedster, Sam Brown, who injured his shoulder in the previous match, they were first to cross the white-wash. Their lead was short-lived, as the Exiles quickly hit back, but Macclesfield held on to the ball, starving the team from North Wales of possession; the pressure told and the holders broke the Macc defence to score another four tries. The Macclesfield boys bagged another two for themselves, including one from wide out by a charging Kai Fagon. It was a fitting end to the tournament with some great 7s rugby played by both teams, the final score being 15-33 to the holders.

Macclesfield’s squad with their Runner’s-up medals

North Wales Exiles Captain receiving the cup from Head Coach and GM Andy Appleyard

North Wales Exiles, winners of the Macclesfield 7s 2022

After the prizes were presented, by Chairman Stephen Branch, the entertainment continued well into the evening with James Keep’s Black Sheep Rebels providing the sounds for the boys from Barcelona and the young ladies from Broughton Park to create their own Sin Bin ‘Mosh Pit’!

Some of the volunteer helpers

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