This year’s Cuppers tournament stood as testimony to just how different a discipline Sevens is to the 15-man format of the game. Neither League nor Cuppers Champions Keble and Teddy Hall managed to reach the semis, both worthily defeated by stronger opponents, whilst it was Brasenose who deservedly triumphed over New in the final to become 2013 Sevens Champions.
Against the backdrop of a wet and rainy Iffley Road, victories for the underdog began in the very earliest rounds of the competition. St Edmund Hall failed to progress from the group stages on day one and there were similar scenes on Friday, as St Catherine’s resoundingly beat Keble by 29 points to 5, in a stark reversal of last terms quarter-final in University Parks. A somewhat dispirited Keble side bemoaned a notable lack of senior players, in particular the absence of fly-half Charlie King, who it was alleged “had lost interest since winning players’ player”.
Oriel, Catz, New and Brasenose progressed in their respective ties to force Somerville, Balliol, Keble and Magdalen into the plate. Two fairly one-sided contests meant that Keble were to face Somerville in the final, but a confident and assured performance from the ‘Ville left them resounding victors 21 points to 10.
Meanwhile the semi-finals of the main draw were anything but one-sided as New scraped past Oriel 19-17 in a thrilling contest, before Brasenose narrowly edged out Catz with a score of 7-5.
In the main final, Brasenose proved too good for New, putting in an excellent display of high-tempo rugby to prevail 19 points to 7 and lift the coveted Sevens trophy.
Reflecting on the disparity between the results of the 15-man and seven-man formats, Keble centre William Mason pinpointed some of the key differences between the two versions:
“Because there are far fewer players, if you bring the ball into contact there’s a good chance you’ll get turned over so you have to try and avoid that as much as possible, whilst there’s no fullback or cover defence, which means you have to make your tackles, because if you don’t there’s no one there to make up for your mistake. Those are just a few of the reasons why Sevens is a completely different ball game.”
Sevens is Rugby’s Twenty20; dynamic, exciting and unpredictable. Brasenose were worthy winners of a successful tournament, which will hope to enjoy even greater support by next year.