Paarl Gym High School have claimed their inaugural Villager Schools Sevens title after they beat a 6-man Bishops team, 24 – 19, in a pulsating final that went right down to the wire with Gym only managing a late score to force the sudden death extra-time. The halftime score was 12 – 7 in their favour.
With a the new format reducing the teams from 32 to 24, an extra pool game and the definitive Southern/Northern split, the 2015 Villager Schools Sevens had everything set to become one of the more memorable tournaments in recent memory. And what an event it turned out to be! Eventual winners Paarl Gym put in good performances right from the start which culminated in a magnificent finale against last years runners up, Bishops ‘A’.
Gim began their ascent easily enough when they overcame Milnerton 54 – 5 in their first pool game and had a similarly easy encounter against ‘Sisizmele winning 33 – 0 in their second pool game to progress to the cup knock out section where they won their first round game against Malibu 29 – 12.
Bishops ‘A’ had a similarly easy road to the knockout stages having beaten Primrose 52 – 0, but had to work slightly harder to win 28 – 12 against eventual Plate Winners, SACS ‘B’, however their first round knockout fixture proved too easy as they powered over Wynberg ‘B’ 52 – 7 to progress to the quarters.
With all the local boys schools namely Bishops, SACS, Rondebosch and Wynberg all looking equally strong and capable of making the final, the scene was set for a memorable few games in the Southern Section quarter finals. And so it proved when SACS ‘A’ just lost out to Wynberg ‘A’ by 24 points to 26 and Bishops ‘A’ narrowly beating traditional rivals Rondebosch by 24 points to 22 restoring some measure of school pride after their previous weeks large derby loss at the hands of Rondebosch.
In the Northern section quarter-finals, Paarl Gym had to work hard to beat Tygerberg High by 24 – 14 ending the ‘Tiere’s’ three year reign on the Villager 7’s Cup title, whilst the other serious title contender, Paul Roos dismantled Excelsior 28 – 0 to set up an enticing semi-final between the two rugby powerhouses.
By having the two distinct Southern and Northern paths to the final, the scene was set for two cracking local derbies between Bishops ‘A’ and Wynberg ‘A’ and Paarl Gym vs Paul Roos. Both semi-finals proved to live up the pre-tournament expectations with Bishops and Wynberg both leaving nothing out on the field to claim one over the other, however it was Bishops that ultimately proved victorious by 33 points to 14 through their superb skill and pace out wide to make it through to their second final in two years.
In the Northern semi-final, Paarl Gym and Paul Roos left nothing to the imagination as to who wanted the title more – the players determination and focus was palpable, but ultimately Gim proved too good by running out as 22 – 10 winners to progress to their first Villager schools 7s final.
With both teams having already won the first Southern and Northern titles, the ultimate prize of claiming the 47th Villager Sevens Title was now firmly within eyesight. Pre-game predictions may have had Gim as slight leaders over Bishops after their masterful victory over Paul Roos in the semi-final, however with the 7’s version of the game suiting the Bishops running style, and the fact that they are the tournaments leading winners with 21 wins, the stage was set for an even better final than the year before.
With former Stormers and Springbok Sevens player, Egon Seconds at the end of the whistle, and with very nice new boots on, the 2015 Cup Final kicked off in what was hoped to be a strength vs strength fixture. However as it sometime happens with over-zealous school boy rugby players, a legitimate counter ruck by a Bishops player turned into an accidentally dangerous tackle that left the Gim player seriously hurt, a challenge which left Referee Seconds no choice but to brandish a red card to the offending player in the first few moments of the game. Bishops would have to dig deep if they wanted to go one up in 2015.
From the resulting penalty Gim made quick work of a Bishop’s side still dealing with being a man down and sailed into a quick 12 point lead before Bishops claimed one back before half-time.
The Bishops half-time chat must have been one for the books as they seemed to regain their composure and began settling into their rhythm to score a fantastic try through Andre Manual after Tristan Leyds set up a superb counter attacking movement from the back. With the conversion Bishops took the lead by 2 points and had many wondering if they could hold out with a man down.
With renewed vigour the ‘Platinum Blues’ kept ball in hand for long periods of time whilst Gim were seemingly content being on defence waiting for a Bishop’s error to claim back their lead. As it happened it was a Gim mistake that allowed Bishops to further their lead after Tristan Leyds picked up a loose pass from Gim and raced down the track to score in the corner to further his team’s lead to 7 points with mere moments to go.
The missed conversion would unfortunately haunt Bishops moments later when Gim had their own breakaway run from their own 22 meter that led to a try right under the poles making it an easy conversion to equal the scores at 19 all on the stroke of halftime. With the rules at the Villager 7’s being such that should teams be tied at fulltime, sudden death extra time would be played and the winner be determined by the team that scores first.
Bishops had the early opportunities in extra time and came close on a few occasions but for their unforced errors they may well have scored, however it was Gim who crossed the whitewash first after a comical scene where the ball was turned over at the same ruck three or four times before Gim passed the ball to their speedy winger who was no match for the would-be Bishops defenders. In utter jubilation the Gim players and their supporters showed how much winning their first Villager Sevens title meant to them and it must be said it was well deserved.
**In the Plate competition, SACS ‘B’ claimed the trophy winning 19 – 5 over Langa in an exciting final on the A field.
All told the 47h Villager Schools Sevens was a great success as the weather decided to once again play its part this year and provided a glorious spring day with barely a breath of wind for the players and spectators alike to enjoy. The weather aside, the spectators were treated to a great feast of school boy running rugby, and with the addition of the Southern and Northern split the knockout games were closer and more exciting as a result of the local derby element which bodes well for the future of this tournament.
The organisers would like to thank our sponsors, especially Sportsmans Warehouse for their continued support since the tournament’s inception. We would also like to thank all the teams, their coaches, managers and especially their players for taking part. We also must thank the WP Referees, under the tutelage of Ben Teron, for their outstanding efforts out in the middle. Without the referee’s games would not take place and for that we are most appreciative. We also thank Russell Tranter from Inversion Media for his efforts in taking over 1000 pictures of the players during the games, as well as the runners, ball boys and anyone who helped make the tournament a success. Not forgetting of course the efforts of organisers Bobby Blows and Peter Simmonds as well as Dave Edwards and Rameez Ismail.
Finally we also would like to thank Stormers player and Springbok Tourist Skara Ntubeni, as well as former Springbok Captain Dave Stewart for handing out the trophies and medals after the finals.
We look forward to hosting you next year at Brookside, the home of the Villager FC.