Thrills Galore at Ilkley 7s Festival

Such a long time since my last post; more than a month ago. So long it's almost like starting all over again. Managed to keep up a post a week, sometimes more, for ages. Then came the end of the rugby union season, a break in the weekend habit, and the momentum was lost.

Not as if exciting photographic things weren't happening. There was a trip to Keighley Albion for ickledot's second ever rugby league photographing. Then an evening at the Solstice Saunter photographing for Sue Ryder. A second event for the charity was the day long Coniston Challenge - the fourth time I've covered it and really enjoyable as always. Also several sessions of Tag Rugby  and Mixed Ability Rugby so it's been pretty full on - perhaps that's why I didn't get round to blogging about it.

A long wait for some rugby union though and, would you believe it, you wait weeks for some to come along and then two opportunities occur at exactly the same time. Two rugby 7s tournaments at two of ickledot's favourite clubs: West Park Leeds and Ilkley. As it happened, a commitment had been made to Ilkley a number of months ago and so it was there I went.

As I've mentioned before, the Ilkley regular team has had a fast attacking style for a number of seasons, perhaps not the heaviest of packs but certainly fast and if their backs get the ball anywhere near the 22 metre line, well, the opposition better look out. So it stands to reason they're going to be pretty good at sevens too. They won quite a number of tournaments last summer and the success has continued in 2017.

For this, the first of the club's own 7s festivals, the home team must have been confident. However, the opposition was strong. There was a former Bradford Grammar School pupils team, no less than three England sides (England Deaf - men and women's teams, England Police), Baildon and teams made up of players from Harrogate, Wharfedale plus a strong Ilkley second team. A shame for the England Deaf Women's team that the only opposition was a Barbarians side but I'm sure the number of women's teams will grow as the festival becomes more established in future years.

The tournament was well organised with matches being played on two pitches either side of the club house. It was great that a 'plate' was played for amongst the sides which lost their first games so each team got to play plenty of rugby. A tannoy announcer kept us all informed as to which games were upcoming although it would have nice to hear some results and placings too - all to come in future years I'm sure. There was food and drink throughout with music to follow in the evening.

Well, Ilkley did manage to win their club's inaugural sevens tournament, beating the Grammar School in the final. However, this result was far from certain as their early games were closely contested and the final was similarly hard fought. A great afternoon then and a hugely successful first sevens festival for Ilkley. Already looking forward to next year's event. With an epic season to come first, of course. You can see a few more shots from the afternoon over on Flickr and there are even more over in the ickledot shop.