Reigning 7s men's and women's rugby champions return for Plate Championship
- Man Met men’s and women’s rugby arrived at West Park Leeds RUFC as reigning champions of the BUCS 7s Trophy championship
As the men and women unloaded from the coach, both teams had hopes to continue their reign, quash the competition, and be back in Manchester in time for dinner.
On arrival, MMU set up their barracks in full view of where they hoped their final would be held.
The men’s were the first to do battle, with Durham University their first foe. Despite their best efforts, MMU lost 3 tries to 2 but Willem Johnson and Josh Lugsden deserve recognition for their tries.
The day was not done and they held their heads high and looked ahead to their next battle against the Northumbrian army.
Meanwhile, the women’s team faced the University of Bristol in their first bout of the day. Their performance could be encapsulated in one word: defiant.
While the end result showed 22-5 to Bristol, the women outshone them in grit and determination with several chances at scoring missed. A mistake they would strive to rectify in their later battles.
Two losses out of two games for MMU so far, not the best start for the champs. It wasn’t all over yet though: the men still had two more games to play in their group and the Women’s 1. Time for redemption.
MMUW v BUW games overlapped the men’s game against Northumbria University and NQ joined the action at half-time. The score was 14-12 to MMU, a promising start.
The restart saw the first yellow card of the day after a dangerous mid-air tackle on one of our own. With a one-man advantage, the boys were imbued with confidence.
What followed could only be described a leapfrog rugby, with both teams scoring one after the other until the final whistle. Full time: MMU 29, NU 26; the first win of the day.
The men’s final match of their group was against University of Newcastle and with one win and one loss, they needed a win to go through to the next stage.
Before the game, Tané Bentley said: “We’re excited to get out there and play. We had a tough start in our first game.
"Second game was an improvement, we didn’t win by much but we still got the W. So we’re going into this game, the conditions are pretty tough at the minute, it’s wet and slippery so we’re gonna play straight, tight and narrow and see where it gets us.
"We’ll run hard and tackle hard, get the win and try and get the cup.”
The whistle blew and Willem Johnson received kick off and linked up with Dirk Bruil to give MMU the first try.
MMU then extended this lead with little resistance until the final score showed 22-19 to MMU and put them through to the quarter final.
Special mention to Tané Bentley for his physicality in defence, as well. Coach Rob Jones described the Newcastle game as ‘the best performance of the day’.
While the men celebrated their victory, news came of the women’s loss against Durham University which put them out of contention for the cup.
They did however qualify for plate semi-final, so they held their heads up and looked ahead to their game against UWE Bristol Women’s.
After an hour’s break, the women discovered UWE were a player down and were faced with the moral decision to let the match go ahead.
They saw no point in letting their opponent’s misfortune affect their chances at the plate title and went to battle.
A ceasefire was called at half time but not before MMU put 29 points on the board and prevented UWE from a single score.
Two straight wins for the girls, attention turned once again to the men’s to see if they could do the same in the face of their toughest foe yet: Loughborough.
The teams traded two tries each in the first half and MMU held up well against the rugby university, but the second half was a different story.
oughborough found a new wind and scored two identical tries in short succession which felt like the beginning of the end of MMU.
A fifth try for Loughborough was the final nail in the coffin and full time showed an MMU defeat of 36-10.
The reigning champions, despite their best efforts, made it only as far as the quarter final before their crown was stolen. A valiant performance after 2 years of no 7s practice.
Not quite the result the boys wanted, but all eyes now turned to the girls to see if they could still bring home a title.
The first half of the final saw one try each, and UWE came back to the field seeking redemption with a try within a minute of the restart.
This did little to extinguish the fire in MMU’s bellies as they responded with three more tries and secured the victory.
MMU Women’s had won the BUCS 7s Plate Championship 2022.