This summer saw Swansea hosting one of the fastest growing rugby tournaments around. But while many were looking forward to the Rugby World Cup, enjoying the Tri Nations or awaiting the start of the new domestic season in Europe more than 2000 sets of eyes were on the “Beach Rugby Wales 2011” tournament.
In its fifth year the competition has grown from its humble beginnings as a 6 team tournament in 2006 to contain 36 teams this year, including 12 women’s teams. The tournament takes a 7 a side touch format and since last year has had both men’s and women’s tournaments.
The winner of the men’s tournament, this year “Team Evolution” from Ammanford, will go on to represent Wales in an international tournament in Italy.
The tournament was not all fun and games though. Founder Ashleigh Walters said “Two years ago in the semi final we had a 20 man brawl when a young team was playing against a veterans’ side,” He did however comment that “this year the atmosphere was very good.”
The event in Swansea attracted one big name in Arwel Thomas, capped 23 times for Wales during his professional career; His team reaching the semi finals before losing to eventual winners, “Team Evolution.”
The concept of Beach Rugby is a new one, and one which is certainly growing quickly. The rate at which “Beach Rugby Wales” is increasing in numbers and prestige is a sign that this new approach to the sport is one which could certainly continue to grow and gain more popularity. What better way for a Rugby fan to spend a summer’s day than on the beach watching a highly competitive Rugby tournament. Play lasted from 10:30 to 17:00 and as the day’s play drew to a close the waves were lapping up just 3 metres short of the touchline. Surely this sport has a future and can provide a great day out for anyone with even a passing interest in Rugby.