Rugby sevens is back!

Anyone with a vague interest in sport at Worksop will be pleased to see that rugby sevens is now firmly back on the College sporting calendar. Sevens is fantastic game and seems to suit the smaller schools whom don’t necessarily need to have the depth in squad numbers that union requires.

Despite having some cracking sevens teams over the years, Worksop have only dabbled in the game when the quality of rugby at the College has been at its highest. We first hear of a Worksop College VII in 1943 when the team (lead by future England captain Nim Hall) won the Northern School’s Sevens. Had the team been entered into Rosslyn Park competition, I am sure they would have progressed to the final stages there too – the competition, having been established in the late 1930s was still in its infancy then.

The College dabbled in sevens in the late 40s and early 50s and in amazingly in 1948 managed to reach the semi-finals of the Rosslyn Park competition under the leadership of P.C.A. Garbutt (whom would later that season play for the England Public Schools XV and later on still play regularly for the Army XV.

Round 1 Whitgift 11-3
Round 2 Wycliffe 21-0 
Round 3 St Bede’s 6-3
Round 4 Ruthin School 8-5 (after extra time)
Semi-final Taunton 3-11
Final Taunton vs Christ’s Hospital 15-6

it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Public Schools sevens competition became a regular fixture and in 1958 the College VII beat Dulwich (Surrey Schools champions) and Rugby School but lost out to K.E.S Birmingham. However, it was in 1960 that real success occurred, when the the VII (coached by Jeff Butterfield) went one better than 1948 and reached the Rosslyn Park final, narrowly losing after extra time had been played.

Round 1 Culford 13-3
Round 2 Rutlish 15-0
Round 3 Oundle 15-0
Quarter-final Marlborough 6-2
Semi-final Dulwich 6-5
Final Belfast Academicals 5-8 (after extra time)
The College rugby sevens team in 1960 (David is back row, second from left)

The College rugby sevens team in 1960

The success of this team was down to their speed and fitness, with Reason, Earnshaw, Woodcock and Griffiths all capable of close to 10s for the 100y (around 11s for the 100m). Woodcock, Griffiths and Tarbatt were all capable of sub 2 for the 880y. Additionally, the captain (Tarbatt) was a member of the England Public Schools XV – a quality side through and through.

Despite this success, sevens died a death after Jeff Butterfield left the College in the early 1960s and it wasn’t until the 90s that the team re-emerged but without the levels of success seen previously (semi-finalists in the Three Counties Schoolboy Sevens held at Newark in 1991 being an exception). It wasn’t until 2007 that the highly successful unbeaten 1st XV sensibly tried their luck at the scaled-down version of the game and despite winning at Newark, couldn’t translate this at Mount St Mary’s where despite a good victory against Leeds Grammar (34-0) the team was beaten by St Peter’s York in the Cup quarter final (0-29).

And so onto recent times… At Mount St Mary’s in 2014 the College VII won the Plate final after victories against Sedbergh ‘B’ (24-10), Stonyhurst (42-7) and Ampleforth (45-12), but this was their only competition of the year.

2015 promises to be an exciting season. After a highly-successful term of union, the team took delivery of some shiny new sevens jerseys and put them to good use at a triangular match with Mount St Mary’s and Trent College, beating both sides. At their first official tournament of the year at Newark, four consecutive victories against Stowe, Uppingham, Welbeck and King’s Grantham ended with a defeat to the eventual winners (Denstone) and a narrow defeat to finalists Oakham.

 Pool game Stowe 24-12
 Pool game Uppingham 22-14
 Pool game King’s Grantham 24-17
 Pool game Welbeck 28-10
 Pool game Denstone 12-33
 Semi-final Oakham 5-10

At the Northern School sevens, the VII performed well beating last year’s winners Woodhouse Grove but narrowly lost out in the semi-final against Hymers. Hymers were themselves (heavily) defeated by Bradford Grammar in the final (0-24).

 Pool game Ampleforth 22-12
 Pool game Loretto 31-7
 Pool game Sedbergh 7-31
 Pool game Woodhouse Grove 14-7
Quarter-final St Anselms, Birkenhead 36-5
Semi-final Hymers 17-24

At Mount St Mary’s Sevens on 15 March, Worksop turned up the pace and shocked a few established rugby schools in the process. They were actually unbeaten at the tournament but their 17-17 draw in the Cup final against an old foe, went the way of the opponents on account of them scoring the last try of the game. An unlucky way to lose out, but momentum is building nicely ahead of Rosslyn Park!

 Pool game Barnard Castle 35-15
 Pool game Hymers 31-7
 Pool game RGS Newcastle 14-12
 Pool game King’s School, Worcester 21-0
Cup semi-final Ampleforth 29-10
Cup final QEGS Wakefield 17-17

3 thoughts on “Rugby sevens is back!

  1. Richard Winn

    I remember well going to the Rossyn park Sevens with Geof Butterfield and John Coghlan who was in fact Master i?c It was a fine side. During his time Jeff brought various rugby players e.g. Tony O’Reilly and many from the Northamton side I also playd for, to play the boys and coach

    Jeff was a fione coach and magnificent player. and a joy to be with.

  2. Lindsay Davies

    Well, I’m not so sure about “…died a death….in the early-60s”.
    Jeff Butterfield had certainly left by the time I arrived from Ranby – September 1961.
    But, I was a member of a Worksop College Seven, at Rosslyn Park, in both Easter 1965 and Easter 1966.
    We may not have been as successful as some of our predecessors, but we had some pretty decent players, especially in 1964/65.
    Two Rosslyn Park memories :
    1965 – the talk of the Tournament – a young fellow playing for the eventual winners, Millfield…Gareth Edwards.
    1966 – against St John’s Leatherhead, I was knocked out while trying to score in the corner…ended up in Queen Mary Hospital Roehampton.
    E.L.Davies – Mason 1961-66

    1. Hugh Chester-Jones

      Lindsay – just came across your post. I remember Jeff Butterfield very well. He always had us run round the pitch a few times before practice. Just wondered if you still had family in Zimbabwe?

      I have been in the US fro 40 years working the last 30 years for the University of Minnesota. Yes I remember the 7’s tournament that Richard Winn refers. to. My claim to fame was I tackled Tony O;Reilly as he sped towards the try line. also David Senior who played fro Yorkshire gave me a dead-leg!

      Good memories. Hope all is well with all.


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