By Beth Ashton
THE LIGNANO International Super Beach 5s in July saw teams from around the world competing to be crowned beach champions.
England’s representatives the Flair Bears crashed out in the semi-finals after the team, more used to playing sevens, missed out to experienced Belguim side The Ghant Magnets. The Flair Bears had already defeated New Zealand, Croatia and Tonga in the pool stages and a Dutch team in the quarter-finals.
Italian team Padova Beach then went on to win the tournament in a gripping all-Italian final between defending champions and rivals I Pessimi.
The competition is now in its 11th year and has been hosted in Lignano, Italy since its conception.
Teams from New Zealand, Holland, Germany, the Pacific Islands, Tonga, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Croatia, Ireland and France joined the English side on the beach over the two days. This year was the first time that the cup was streamed live on the internet for supporters around the world.
It was the first time that the English Flair Bears had diversified from sevens to beach rugby and their motivation for playing is not just limited to travelling to places like Lignano and beyond. The team is part of a campaign to raise awareness for UK Brain Tumour Research after their captain and founder Barty Hills was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2007. Having made a full recovery, he and the team hope to taste success and raise money through rugby.