More than 40 teams headed to Portugal for the tournament. Francisco Isaac reports

Algarve Sevens back with a bang

Blazing sun, colourful backdrop and so many teams and players at the Sports Complex of the Algarve city of Vila Real de Santo António looking to get into the spirit of sevens.

After two years of disappointing cancellations due to the pandemic, in 2022 the Algarve Sevens was able to attract a record number of teams (44), players (700), match officials (20) and an almost full stand to watch the Shield, Bowl, Plate and Cup battles in the three senior divisions on the final day.

From the Elite, which included Hong Kong, Georgia, Blue Bulls and Portugal, to the amateur-social teams in the Men’s and Women’s Open, the seven-a-side tournament had a big comeback this month.

Paul John, Hong Kong men’s head coach, explained why the Algarve Sevens is a good choice for national teams to compete in. He said: “We have been three times now, and we enjoyed every time.

“We played two tournaments in the Super Seven Series (UK) the two weeks before, knowing this was going to be the hardest one to finish off. This sevens tournament was perfect before heading back to Hong Kong.”

Former internationals like Junior Paramore, Johnny Leota, Opeta Palepoi, Max Evans, Pedro Leal and Joao Correia played in the Vets’ tournament, but their trip with 100 World Legends was focused on getting involved with the local community as it is one of the cornerstones of the organisation.

Former Northampton Saints and England scrum-half Lee Dickson made his first trip with the Legends and said: “The 100 World Legends compromises of all sorts of nationalities. With everything going on in Ukraine, David (Higgins) wanted to help and our shirts, alongside other help, is heading there.

“We are in the Algarve to play with the kids, getting involved with them and spreading the word of rugby in a beautiful set-up and city.”

After two days of bruised bodies, extreme heat (37°C on Saturday) and an entertaining Saturday night party, the Algarve Sevens came to a close with three big finals that delighted the crowd.

In the Men’s Open, it was Portuguese side Agronomia Rugby, led by international João Lima, who got their hands on the trophy.

In the Women’s Open final, the powerful national team of Kazakhstan faced the slick handling of the Fantastic Sevens team from France. Two styles of play but only one could win – and Fantastic Sevens held off a last-minute attack to triumph.

The Elite competition was decided between Hong Kong, led by Cado Lee and Russell Webb, and another French side, Seventise, who had a star in Luca Mignot.

After 14 minutes of normal play the scores were level so the match went into extra-time and a penalty try awarded to Seventise proved decisive.

The Algarve Sevens had the perfect ending to a thrilling and exciting weekend. Who is already looking forward to 2023?

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