The Shiplake 7s takes place this weekend, one of the very first big 7s tournaments of the year.
Sixteen teams will head to Shiplake College for a tournament that has grown and grown over the last few years. They are split into four groups of four and the winners will head through to the Cracknell Cup semi finals, named after former Shiplake pupil and England 7s captain, Chris Cracknell. The winners of those meet in the Cracknell Cup final, the losers in the Plate final.
Second place in the group head to the Shield semis, with the winners meeting in the Shield final, and the losers in the Bowl final. Those finishing third in the group meet in the Trophy semi finals, with the winners meeting in the Trophy final, while those finishing fourth meet in the Vase semi finals, the winners of those head to the Vase final.
Unlike other tournaments, the Shiplake 7s has a unique draw for all of those semi finals. Rather than a pre-planned draw, the semi final draw only takes place after the conclusion of the group stages, meaning that sides do not know who they are playing until the end of the group stage.
Bedford have won the last two Shiplake 7s, and head up Group B this year. It is a tough looking group though, featuring Tonbridge, Abingdon, and Worth, so the back to back champions will need to be at their best for a Cracknell Cup place.
The hosts, Shiplake College, are in Group A alongside New Hall, and one of the strongest sides in the tournament, Haileybury. Perhaps the key side to look out for now though are the 2013 champions Hurstpierpoint College, who last week won the Seaford 7s, marking them out as a side to watch from this point forward. Can they win back to back tournaments?
Cheltenham College will also fancy their chances after an unbeaten fifteen-a-side season. They head up Group C, where they will have Radley College, Caterham, and Emanuel for company.
Group D looks very even, Seaford College, St Paul’s, Eastbourne College, and Reading Blue Coat make up the group and will compete hard for the chance to get their names on that Cup alongside Bedford, Wellington College, and Hurstpierpoint College from the last few years.
|2017 Shiplake 7s Draw|
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Haileybury||Bedford||Cheltenham College||Seaford College|
|Shiplake College||Tonbridge||Radley College||Eastbourne College|
|Hurstpierpoint College||Abingdon||Caterham||St Paul’s|
|New Hall||Worth||Emanuel||Reading Blue Coat School|