The 10th staging of the unique Islay Beach Rugby tournament took place in front of the White Hart Hotel in Port Ellen in glorious sunshine on Saturday 8th June. The event has traditionally enjoyed good weather and now provides one of the social and sporting highlights of the Islay calendar. Over a thousand gathered on the banking to enjoy fearsome competition from twenty two men’s and eight women’s teams. Conditions were perfect as the prolonged spell of dry weather provided deep, soft, powdery sand. While this means it is utterly exhausting to play on, it probably accounted for the lower injury count this year which is always welcome.Billed as “Blood on the Beach”, the spectacle of fast, furious, full contact rugby makes for great entertainment.
All teams are guaranteed lots of games in the group stages, which are limited to five minutes a side with rolling substitutions due to the extreme physical effort involved. Each team has ten players with only five allowed on the pitch at any one time, and it is overall fitness, speed of thought, skill and technique which tends to prevail over sheer size and power.
The winners of the ‘Laddie Cup’ were The Mercian Regiment who were making their first appearance at the tournament. Runners up were fellow debutants Garnoch. Last year’s winners Kilchoman won the Plate, beating Oban in their final while the Bowl was taken home by Trinity who prevailed over Ardbeg.The Lassie Cup was won by Team 200 who were also joining us for the first time. They beat Melrose Ladies, girls from a club that has been a long term supporter of Islay Beach Rugby. It should be pointed out that the standard of rugby played by the women’s team was very very high this year. The ‘hits’ in the ladies section have always been fierce but this time round some the of the passing movements from both sides in the final were mesmerizingly fast.
The competition is sponsored by Bruichladdich Distillery and Rhino Rugby. All the games were played at the highest levels of sportsmanship despite the extremely physical nature of the contest.
Bruichladdich CEO Simon Coughlin, who is also President of Islay Rugby Club, said: This was another fantastic occasion. Competitive rugby played in an excellent spirit. It was great to see a number of new teams here this year, all of whom did extremely well. We really appreciate the efforts of all those involved in making the weekend work so smoothly including my fellow members of Islay Rugby Club and Strathclyde Police in Bowmore.
“We are particularly grateful for the assistance of our friends at Caledonian MacBrayne who adjust the ferry schedules to suit the hundreds of players and supporters who travel to the island as foot passengers over the weekend. It would be very difficult to put on a successful tournament without their help. We look forward to another successful tournament nest year.”
“I would like to take this time to thank you for an absolutely fantastic weekend. All the lads from the Royal Navy Faslane team thoroughly enjoyed themselves and cannot wait for next year. We would like to make this an annual event on our behalf and I hope we can be invited next year. Again many thanks for a great weekend of sun, sand and rugby.”Lee JonesLPTHMS Neptune
“I just wanted to pass a quick note to say how much the Garioch Ladies enjoyed the Islay Beach Rugby event this year. Everything about it (especially the weather) was fabulous and the girls have been raving about it ever since. The event brings out everything that is great about rugby and we have a good bunch of memories from the weekend.”Debbie Tait (Garioch Ladies)
“Just a brief note from the lads at Garnock Rugby Club to say thank you for a fantastic weekend. The hospitality was first class and the tournament itself the best run and most enjoyable we have attended. The camaraderie between the participating teams was outstanding. Please pass on our sincere thanks to all those involved in organising the weekend as we appreciate how much work goes into making sure an event of that size runs smoothly.”David PerryGarnock RFC
“All the Cartha lads had a great time and all agreed it was probably the best beach tournament yet, absolutely outstanding.” Iain BarnesCartha RFC