SATURDAY, May 17, saw Old Penarthians host their 65th consecutive seven-a-side tournament on a day when the sun shone, the crowds turned up and the rugby was of the highest quality.
It was also a day when the Old Penarthians club members, committee and volunteers could be proud of their organisational achievements.
To many people it may be just a case of turning up on the day to participate or enjoy watching sports action but to others it is the culmination of months of hard work.
It is therefore to the credit of the organising committee under the leadership of Jon Vaughan that those same people leave at the end of the day thinking that the day has passed quickly and seamlessly from one match to the other in the company of friends enjoying a drink in the sunshine.
This year the organisers were tested to the limit by the number of late team withdrawals and the advertised draw had to be hastily re-organised to accommodate 13 teams instead of the usual 16. It was therefore the first time in the tournament's history that the initial part of the event was played on a league basis where four groups were created with the winners progressing to the latter stages of the cup competition and the second placed teams entering the plate competition.
The day started with an exhibition match of tag rugby played between teams of under 7s and the development squad of under 6s from the Old Penarthians mini and junior section who obviously enjoyed playing in front of a large crowd.
This was followed by the start of the tournament, unusually on number two pitch, in a match between Llandovery College OB and Jolly Sailors won by the Old Boys team.
First up on the Main Pitch were last year’s beaten finalists Glantaf Goats against first time entrants Dinas Powys and it was another win for an Old Boys team.
The remaining league fixtures played across the two pitches ensured that all teams had at least two games and within the format there was a very bruising encounter between Glantaf and Cardiff Baby Blues that was won by the Glantaf. There was also a very entertaining game between two well matched teams in Voyagers and Llandovery, won by a Voyagers team based around players from Bridgend and Aberavon.
Eventually at the end of the round robin stage of the event the four teams who topped the groups were Glantaf Goats, Voyagers, the 2013 winners, Welsh Charitables, and Old Penarthians. The Old Pens achieving top spot in a group where the three teams all win one match by virtue of the points scored.
Second placed teams progressing to the plate competition were Cardiff Baby Blues, Llandovery, Cardiff and District OB and Hen Fois-y-Fro Morgannwg. A team from the Welsh medium secondary school in Barry who were supported on the day by former old boys and Welsh internationals Lloyd Williams and Cory Allen. Also seen supporting the Baby Blues team with whom he has competed in the tournament previously was Rhys Patchell.
The first semi-final of the Cup Competition saw Glantaf Goats defeat Welsh Charitables in a very close game by 21 points to 19 with a last minute try and conversion. The other semi saw Old Pens pitted against Voyagers and having held the visitors to a 14 points to 7 half time scoreline the final score was eventually 24 points to 12.
The plate competition semi-finals were slightly more one-sided and Cardiff Baby Blues and Llandovery were relatively easy winners over Hen Fois-y-Fro and Cardiff and District OB respectively.
After a break in which the Under 8s of the Old Pens mini and junior teams entertained the large crowd it was time for the Plate Competition final and a very feisty affair it was with Llandovery recovering from a half time deficit of 21 -7 to prevail by a score of 35 -28. This was something of an upset but thoroughly deserved by Llandovery and proves that Old Boys sides can still be competitive.
The final of the Cup Competition was the last match of the day and it was a fitting climax to an exciting day of rugby sevens when perennial finalists Glantaf Goats played against Voyagers. Unfortunately the Glantaf team fell at the final hurdle for the second year in a row and it was Voyagers who were the worthy winners by 26 points to 19.
After the match the presentations were made to the winning and losing finalists by Old Penarthians chairman Mel Jones who stepped into the big shoes left by last year’s presentation host Jamie Roberts.
Mel also presented the man of the tournament to the Voyagers captain Jonathan Phillips who had guided his team well throughout the day and scored important tries when called upon.
Group A - Jolly Sailors 14, Llandovery 24; Glantaf Billy Goats 0, Voyagers 52; Jolly Sailors 49, Glantaf Billy Goats 14; Llandovery 19, Voyagers 22; Jolly Sailors 14, Voyagers 33; Llandovery 33, Glantaf Billy Goats 24.
Group B - Glantaf Goats 43, Dinas Powys 5; Glantaf Goats 33; Cardiff Baby Blues 7; Dinas Powys 14, Cardiff Baby Blues 63.
Group C - Cardiff & District 24, Old Penarthians 14; Cardiff and District 7, Meibion Plasmawr 12; Old Penarthians 19, Meibion Plasmawr 7.
Group D - Welsh Charitables 40, Hen Fois-y-Fro Morgannwg 5; Welsh Charitables 47, Old Cantonians 21; Hen Fois-y-Fro Morgannwg 38, Old Cantonians 17.
Plate Semi-final - Cardiff Baby Blues 36, Hen Fois y Fro 12; Cardiff & District 5, Llandovery 28.
Plate final - Cardiff Baby Blues 28, Llandovery 35.
Cup semi-finals - Glantaf Goats 21, Welsh Charitables 19; Voyagers 26, Old Penarthians 12.
Cup final - Voyagers 26, Glantaf Goats 19.