The festival, an account of the 2017 tournament


2017 Colonsay Rugby Festival


The teams, 5 men’s and women’s arrived on the ferry in sunshine! Not like that all weekend but good start.  After a good welcome party, with Liam, whom saved the day finding a sound system, as dj, and the Brewery and Gavin providing the sustenance, the tournament proper began at 11 on Saturday morning. A round robin, 10 a side with 10 minutehalves for the mens. 7 a side and 7 minute halves for the women. 

The mens tournament began with Corrywrecken last year’s winners against Inverleith.  A fiercely contested game that set the tone for the tournament. Being 10 a side, with the lack of bodies to cover, once you are through you score, so final scores tended to be high however hard fought the game. Corry won this one 38-18.

Corry went on to win all their round robin games, including a thriller against the Ochalochs, where they came from behind to win 26-25 with the last play of the game. Ochalochs, much less hungover than their last appearance, won 3. Allan Glens, new to the tournament this year, won 2. With an outstandingly committed defence and some quick runners, they were a hard team to beat. Father and son combo, and Steve(dad) wants it on record that although Alistair (son) did most of the scoring, it was actually Steve that was the star. Strathendrick and Inverleith, great supporters of the festival, bought impressively fit teams, mixing old and young, Strathendickwith a father and son combo in Dave and Patrick Beaumont. Sometimes outgunned by bigger opponents, they were always in the hunt, and are stronger and stronger each year. Strathendrick winning 1.

3 new womens teams in the tournament, Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow Universities, with Emma and Justine as ringers from Hackney RFC. Good games in the round robin, with Edinburgh the best organised – and with Liz Musgrove outstanding in attack and defence- they won both their games, Stirling won one.   

 

Women’s final was Edinburgh University, unbeaten and earlier victors against the other finalist Stirling University, 21-10After a hard fought first half, Edinburgh was well aheadGood defence, straight running, Katie Dougan dominating the lineout and proving a deft thief at the breakdown, It looked as if it was to go the way of their earlier meeting, with Stirling making good line breaks but unable to escape the covering tackles of Liz Musgrove or to defend against her power and pace on the break. But Stirling playing into the wind in the second half, began to work better as a team, improved passing worked runners free and they scored 3 unanswered tries to close the gap to two pointsToo late, as the Edinburgh defence held to the final whistle to complete a clean sweep and win the final 26-24

There was a game of touch rugby between the finals, with a real mix of teams, ages and sexes, dominated by the 2 smallest people at the festival who scored repeatedly once they had worked out which way to run and were clear winners of best smiles of the day.

Then Corrywrecken versus Ochalochs in the men’s final. Corry were unbeaten in the round robin. With quick runners across the park and great distribution from Richard they were devastating on the break and had amassed 104 points. Ochalochs had lost to Corry in the round robin but were a formidable unit of big fast forwards (mainly props- so intelligent, good looking, essentially decent human beings as well as great rugby playerswith Mo Middleton pulling the strings at fly half and Jamie Anderson as the flyer in fluorescent boots. From the start Ochalochs dictated play sending big runners up the middle, dominating the scrums and well organised in defence. Tim Gabelko played a virtuoso role at restarts, leaping high to catch cleanly or hacking wildly at the ball, once for respectable return downfield, once into the arms of his surprised fly half standing 20 yards behind him. Fiercely committed Corry defence kept the Ochalochs out, until man mountain Stuart Graham made a half break through the middle, did a lovely pass out of contact to Mo, who flicked it backhanded in a high speed scissors with Jamie to burn through under the posts. 2 more tries for Ochalochsfollowed including a push over, but Corry were far from beaten. Fired by memories of their round robin encounter when they had come from behind to win 26-25, Richard led a furious fight back, spinning some great passes wide to try to free up `James Brown and breaking through the middle himself to set up a try. But the Ochalochs defence was well organised, the physical pressure from their big forwards was relentless and crucially Corry didn’t play with their usual precision at key moments in attack. Ochalochs won by 24-14 .

 

Stephen Jenkins, the Ochaloch’s skipper lifted the cup for Mens tournament winners, Katie Dougan of Edinburgh University, the bigger cup, for Womens winners. Awhirlwind Friday night romance and engagement of 2 players was celebrated. Jamie and Liz won golden boots for the most tries. Richard Mills won tourist of the tournament for his playand his leadership of the Corry team including collecting players who had come across by rib very late Friday night. The biggest thank you of the day was for the refs, particularly Kevin for reffing 11 games of rugby in 6 hours, to a high standard in good humour, and for Steve who “volunteered” to ref on the boat from Oban and carried on reffing after he had broken his hand- and for Mo who refed a couple of games the same way as he plays, with lots of advice and a loose interpretation of the rules, all delivered from a distance.

 

The theme of the ceilidh was “childhood books or heroes”. There were seven Batmanslots of Robin Hoods, Captain Hook, a Lost Boy or two, Stuart came as himself (the Incredible Hulk)- but the clear winners were the 3 Blind Mice, complete with white sticks. The band, who had played for various teams during the day, got everyone dancing until 1. But the party carried on. There is apparently a picture of a respected Colonsay citizen dancing on the bar in the wee small hours. The ref eventually persuading the dregs to turn the music down and go to bed at 5. 

Thanks to all the players, the refs, and the many supporters on the Island, who make the tournament possible.

 

 

 

 And a previous account of 2015....


Friday evening on Macchrins, tent up, pitch immaculate, open-air toilets with the best view in Scotland and new high tech electric shower (car battery, IBC and pallet enclosure)- in fact everything ready for the fourth Colonsay Rugby Festival. Boat comes in, teams ferried to the site, lovely evening and great party, fuelled by the Colonsay Brewery. 

Saturday morning another lovely day, the five teams appear gradually out of their tents or b&bs for Gavin’s bacon rolls. Oban arrive by rib with the post protectors- phew! John and Ken, our amazing refs, begin with a captains briefing at 11.45, 10 a side, 10 minutes each way. First game up is Correyvrecken, last year’s runners up, versus Inverleith, strengthened by some Irish ringers. In fact Inverleith is a team transformed with more players than supporters, and average age halved.  Correyrecken win by 33, deadly on the break with a hat trick from seriously quick James Brown. They look good.

Merchiston and Strathendrick up next, Merchiston winning 31-5 but 17-year-old Fionn White playing for Strathendrick shines at number nine. Ochaloch Bears, looking seriously hungover, beat Inverleith but are then trounced by Correyvrecken with James Brown now up to 5 tries and Austin chasing him with 3. Oban’s direct running and aggression catches Merchiston cold but they are surprised by the ferocity of resistance from Strathendrick, before running out winners with a big second half. Ginger runs in 3 tries for Oban to take his total up to 4. 

And then on to the semi-finals with some really top class rugby, Correyvrecken beat Merchiston 35-19 in a great open running game with fantastic handling from both sides. Austin adds 2 and James 1 to their personal tally.  

Second semi-final is the historic struggle between Oban and Ochalochs, Ginger scores for Oban early on after a great break by Halo. A really hard fought game with no further scores as Ochalochs at last play with real determination but can’t break down the Oban defence.

Before the final, there is a 20 a side touch game on the pitch for spectators and enthusiasts. 

The final is Oban versus Correyvrecken. Oban’s mass defence and commitment are determined to snuff out the threat posed by the Correyvrecken runners. Rich at flyhalf for Correyvrecken trying to get Austin or James into space. After a break for an injury, Correyvrecken are caught napping by Halo who carves through a gap to score under the posts. 7-0 to Oban who then hold out grimly, even after the yellow carding of one player, holding on to the ball and defending well against repeated Correyvrecken attacks. Late in the second half Correyvrecken at last get James Brown into space, he scorches away to touch down under the post. Rich converts, 7 all at full time. Two minutes into sudden death extra time, Oban are penalised ten yards from their line. Correyvrecken spins it left, Eddie crosses unopposed and it’s all over. 

Outstanding final enjoyed by a good crowd in the sunshine, with much knowledgeable comment added from the Inverleith supporters club (“run straight you pillock” etc).

Fionn, the youngest player there, gets man of the tournament; James Brown gets the Golden Boot with 8 tries.

 

The theme for the ceilidh is “Under the Sea”- and after some well earned partying in their teams, the sea creatures emerge from their tents and start to drift over to the main tent and the music. A significantly bustier Pamela Anderson is there reprising Baywatch; John the ref is straight out of a slaughterhouse/horror movie as Shark Attack with his wife Sheila as a very elegant jelly fish; there is a huge lobster- too drunk to speak but he looks great; a startlingly green Irish jellyfish, a man with a bottle strapped to his head (message in a bottle); a very fetching penguin; Poseidon complete with a garden rake (pitchfork deemed too dangerous); finding Nemo; flotsam and jetsam draped in rubbish; the Middleton girls in nets; and finally as the sun set over the beach 20 near naked men (19 figure hugging speedos and one pair of baggy grey boxers) roped together walked into the tent- a rope of mussels (muscles- geddit). Dead silence, Gen the bandleader reduced to incoherence, women young and old averting their gaze, small children sobbing, and then Pamela steps forward and seizing the lead mussel by the hand? trips into a Strip the Willow, and the party begins. 

A fantastic night, with sea creatures and locals partying until 5. Gen and the band are perfect, Pede nonchalantly smacks down a revolting creature from the deep with his banjo without missing a beat. A swaying, swirling mob of about 100 dashing  a White Sergeant on the pitch- and best of all a Virginia Reel stretching out into the distance. 

 

And later the next morning- the sea creatures are gone, the tents are struck, site cleared (thank you to the Inverleith supporters club- you are stars)- the sheep and the rain are back.

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