Official report 2008
Best ever in terrific summer weather
·Wooden Spoon end the Olorun Sharks winning run in the Men’s
·Irish Vixens win the Ladies in their first attempt
The 16th edition of the Ten’s was blessed with glorious weather, which in turn led to record attendances and rather impressive sales of liquid refreshments. The main sponsors remained Scottish & Newcastle Breweries, who this year chose to feature their Finnish beer Lapin Kulta (Lapland’s Gold).
The format has now been established as 32 Men´s teams and 16 Ladies, with mini Junior and Old Boy outings. The difference this year was the number of applicants who had to be turned away. Over 40 firm applications were obtained for the Men and over 20 for the Ladies. The other difference was the quality of the teams participating; on both the male and female sides there was a quantum increase in playing standards.
Day One was, as always, devoted to separating the Men from the Boys and the Ladies from the Girls. As usual, there were a number of high scores in the pool qualifiers as the top-seeded teams played the minnows, but there were many hard-fought battles as well. There were also many new teams this year, which made it not entirely easy to get the seeding right. Nevertheless, the cream rose to the top as usual and it became clear that a number of teams had ambitions to go all the way.
The Men’s Cup tightly fought as usual
The cup-holders for the last four years, Olorun Sharks, progressed without a hitch to the Quarters, as did the charity organisation the Wooden Spoon. First division Irish team Dungannon had also raised their sights this year and were looking impressive, as were a new Scottish team Merchonians (from Merchiston and Watsonians). Two other regulars at the Ten’s, Kukri Badgers and Megatron, also made it to the Quarters, where they were joined by the Bootleggers, a young team based on Exeter University. Another newcomer, Dudley Kingswinford, an English club side, completed the quarter-finalists.
The next stage on Day Two was a bridge too far for some of the teams with the Sharks, Spoons and Dungannon all winning comfortably, while Merchonians had to work harder to get past the Badgers. And so to the Semis where a fifth game in temperatures of 30°C was beginning to take its toll. The two strongest defences in the tournament, the Sharks and the Spoons, beat Dungannon and Merchonians respectively by four tries to nil, although both losers would have scored several tries against other opposition.
And so to the Cup final
Would the Sharks, a perennially strong combined English side, win for the fifth time in succession against newcomers the Spoons, who had quietly told the organisers that they would be sending a team "which we would not be disappointed in”? The Sharks who have always been experts in turning defence into attack did just that in the first half to go ten up while just holding out against furious attacks by the Spoons.
Then, at the start of the second half, they did it again to lead 15 - 0 and it looked as if they would prevail yet again. But the Spoons raised their game a final time and, to the delight of a packed stand, which always supports the underdog, they scored one try, then another and with about two minutes to go they went in under the posts to convert and lead 17 - 15. Could the Sharks come from behind as they have done several times in the past?
No, the Spoons kept up the pressure and went over on the whistle to win 22 - 15. It was a finale which in the playing standard would have done credit to any rugby tournament and it was fitting that it was ably refereed by Wayne Barnes, top English Rugby World Cup referee.
The Plate, Cup and Bowl
At the second level, the Plate, Old Brightonians who had looked good on Day One were too strong for the best Swedish team Hammarby in one Semi, while Hammersmith just squeezed by against the Termplars. The final then went to Old Brightonians, welcome newcomers to the Ten’s. At the third level, the Bowl, the Teamlink Titans proved to be full of running and beat the hosts Stockholm Exiles in the final. At the fourth level, the Shield was won by Linköping, a club 200 km south of Stockholm, who beat the Moldavian RC UTM s. A small consolation for what had otherwise been a torrid weekend for the Swedish Men´s clubs. Losers RC UTM were awarded the Fair Play Cup both for coming some 3000 km for their visit to the Ten’s and with half their youthful squad playing both in the Men’s and the U19 classes.
And now to the Ladies
Here there were also a number of newcomers including the Irish Vixens coming with a good reputation from other tournaments. The matches on Day One followed more or less the seeding. Stockholm Exiles Ladies, multiple winners in the past and finalists against the unbeatable Wooden Spoons in 2007, were not at normal strength this year and they went out in the first Quarters against Irish Vixens. The Horny Bulls from Göteborg then beat Boudiccas from England while the Zürich Valkyries got home against the battling Pink Ladies from Enköping. Finally, a strong Moody Cows team beat yet another Swedish team from Trojan.
The Semis found a lot of teams hurting and reserves running low. The Irish Vixens beat the Horny Bulls with a bit to spare as did the Moody Cows against the Valkyries. An Irish - English final ensued, although both teams had a few Swedish players in their squads. In a hard-fought battle the Vixens just got the better of the Cows by 12 - 0.
The Ladies’ Plate tournament saw a number of Norwegian and Finnish teams involved, but the finalists turned out to be Blackheath and Swedish Attila from Stockholm. The English girls got home 15 - 0 in the final.
There were also two mini tournaments for Old Boys and Junior Boys. In a high standard OB decider, the South Pacific Masters just got the better of Stockholm Exiles. At U19 level, Dudley Kingswinford ran out comfortable winners.
Busy Referees and Medical Staff
All in all two wonderful days of rugby, made possible by the usual outstanding contributions. The 26 referees, immaculately kitted out by Zoti Sportswear, worked tirelessly in 3-person groupings (two ladies included) to keep the ball rolling in some 120 matches. The medical tent with a staff of ten including four doctors maintained their usual high standard, with around 300 patients over the two days. Dr Fredrik von Bergen (a.k.a Dr Death) in charge as usual and all of the staff neatly turned out in red skull and crossbones bandanas.
On the pitch you could see colourful Kukri match balls donated via the Wooden Spoons who will once again be receiving a donation from the organisers, Stockholm Exiles. Also thanks to the food providers organised by the official pub, O’Connell’s and to TeamLink the official travel agent in the UK, who handled travel and accommodation for many of the teams.
A team effort pulled off once again
It required a great many of members of Exiles to make the 16th Ten’s an outstanding success; but perhaps a special round of applause for the three who have spent months ensuring that everything will run smoothly: supremo Allan Mabon, participant contact man Peter Salzer and administrative expert Hunter Mabon Jr. Congratulations!
At times on the Sunday, half the crowd seemed to consist of young ladies in bikinis, both players and spectators. There are without doubt worse rugby crowds. The BBQ and dance at the pitch on the Saturday night (and the showing of the Australia - New Zealand match) retained several hundred people until after midnight, while over 500 attended the closing party at a downtown nightclub on the Sunday, which went on even longer.
Preliminary dates for next year: August 1 - 2, 2009. Make sure you get your applications in early. Exiles were turning away teams by April this year.
Check www.stockholmtens.se for full results and shortly photos from this year’s event.
Hunter Mabon Sr.