Wessex Wyverns RFC return to the UK with the Bronze Union Plate trophy
The Union Cup is a biennial European, non-professional, gay rugby union tournament, bringing together teams and joint teams from all over Europe.
The first edition was held in May 2005 in Montpellier, France, and had seven participating teams. Since then the tournament has been hosted by Copenhagen (2007), London, (2009), Amsterdam (2011), Bristol (2013) and Brussels (2015).
A team of 18 Wessex Wyverns travelled to Madrid to join over 30 other teams, from even as far as South Africa, joined by the head coach and 9 Wyverns supporters. The Wyverns performance at the 2015 Union Cup led to the 2017 team being placed in the mid-tier Union Plate competition, to play two games on the Saturday, and one on the Sunday. The results would then determine who went through to the finals.
Saturday 29 April, 8:30am
Tou’Win v Wessex Wyverns – Final score 38 : 5
On a cold and wet Madrid morning the team lined up against the top seeded French team, Tou’Win Rugby Club from Toulouse, France on the 3G pitch at the main site. With the French team not contesting scrums, the Wyverns put up a brave defence, with Jose going off with a bloodied nose in his first ever rugby game! The higher seeded team won the day, but not without conceding 5 points to Ted’s try in the second half.
Saturday 29 April, 1:05pm
Wessex Wyverns v Manchester Village Spartans II – Final score 12 : 5
Travelling to the satellite 3G pitch, the Wyverns now faced another UK team. This game was a special one for the Wyverns, the first game the team had contested scrums! Taking full grasp of the opportunity, the Wyverns won each of their scrums, and stole three from the Spartans! Dominic, in only his 7th game, stopped the Spartans scored with a great tackle, but went off with what turned out to be a broken leg! Lewis and Ted scored tries against the Spartans, with James converting one to win the day.
The elated team made sure to celebrate their first ever Union Cup win later in the night!
Sunday 30 April, 12:40pm
Wessex Wyverns v Berlin Bruisers – Final score 0 : 17
The next day brought the Wyverns to the grass pitch on the main site, with the match being streamed live on YouTube! It was a hard fought match, with the Wyverns having great possession and spending a lot of the match in the Bruisers' 22, meters from scoring against a hard defence; Eric had a great long run across the pitch raising hopes of a Wyverns try, which sadly was repelled. The Bruisers managed to take advantage of a few breaks in the Wyverns line to score, but Nick wasn’t going to let the Bruisers run away with the match, putting big hits in and stopping further points scored. The match wasn’t without incident, though, with one of the Bruisers suffering a bad cut under one eye – from another of his teammate’s boots! Another Bruiser was also sent off under a yellow card 2 minutes from the end of the game.
The game has been uploaded to YouTube and can be seen from 4hr 33 mins here.
Union Plate Bronze Final
Wessex Wyverns v Newcastle Ravens – Final score 25 : 0
With Tou’Win and the Northampton Outlaws facing each other for Gold, and the Berlin Bruisers facing the French team Les Coqs Festif, the Wyverns looked forward to fighting it out for Bronze. It wasn’t to be, however, as the Ravens forfeited, handing the Bronze to the Wyverns for their best Union Cup result ever.
Not to miss out on some rugby though, Wyverns Captain James Flower and Ted joined the Brighton Sea Serpents in their Union Bowl Gold final against the French team Rebelyons. Club President Lewis also joined Eric helping out the Northampton Outlaws in their Union Plate Gold final against Tou’Win. Lewis injured his left hand during the game, but never gave up. Turned out it was broken!
In the end Rebelyons won the Union Bowl Gold, and Tou’Win won the Union Plate Gold. It wasn’t to be a French clean sweep however – Kings Cross Steelers I defeated Los Valents de Montpelier!
Spirits high after a weekend of rugby, all the teams met up at the closing ceremony where Wyverns Chairman Nick accepted the bronze Union Plate, and each player picked up their bronze medallions.
At the ceremony it was announced that the Emerald Warriors had won the bid for the 2019 Union Cup to be held in Dublin. The Wyverns will be there!
Next year the Bingham Cup, the biennial Global non-professional, gay rugby union tournament comes to Amsterdam, and the Wessex Wyverns will be representing the Hampshire RFU at the event! Roll on 2018!
For more pictures see our gallery.