London’s only full weekend rugby and music festival took place in Chiswick over the bank holiday, with more than 250 players taking part.
The LDN 7s festival, in its second year at Chiswick Rugby and Football Club, encourages teams from all over the country to compete, with tournaments organised in rugby 7s, netball and quidditch.
The evening entertainment, alongside numerous food and drink outlets, saw former England rugby union international James Haskell headlining as DJ on Saturday night.
Despite the gloomy weather, tournament founder Richard Small was pleased with how the event unfolded, particularly given the event had doubled in size.
“There wasn’t a full weekend rugby and music festival in London, so we chose a Bank Holiday weekend – this is our weekend!” he said.
“It takes a year’s planning and it’s one of the big events for the Army and the Navy up the road. The serving military is a massive family – the rugby family is huge as well, and we’re trying to bring it all together and offer that little bit more, both before and after the rugby.”
With various factions of the military present throughout, there was no doubting the fierce, competitive edge, with crunching tackles and peerless running on the rugby pitch.
A pivotal part of the event is also the charities associated with the festival, including mental health charity Rock 2 Recovery and Scotty’s Little Soldiers – a charity for children of family members who have died while serving abroad and for those suffering from PTSD.
“It’s not just about the sport,” said co-director Courtney Greensmith.
“It’s a military community who come down here, so we don’t just want to build a massive festival for everyone to come to – we do that as well, but we like to build a nice, safe environment where anyone who is struggling can come and have a chat in a relaxed environment.”
There were various different rugby event categories, with high-quality knockout competitions accompanied by lower-key ‘social’ tournaments.
Edward Gray, captain of the 29 Commando Royal Artillery team from Plymouth who won the Saturday social event, spoke of how much he had enjoyed the trip to south London.
“Everyone has absolutely loved it. It’s really high quality and we’ve been put through our paces but that’s exactly what you’re looking for. There’s a surprising amount of friendly faces here too, with people from different military groups.”
Similarly, Harry Busby of the Royal Marines said he enjoyed the team camaraderie, despite the difficulty in putting out a full-strength side.
“At the end of the day we’re playing with guys down, with lads who are on tours and other people who need to see their girlfriends, so we’ve been playing with just seven players. But it’s good – I’ve come from Bournemouth and we got lads together from different parts of the country and we’ve all really enjoyed it,” he said.
Despite its steady growth, Richard wants the event to expand even further in the coming years.
“The plan is for 4,000 people next year, then 6,000-7,000 the year after. We’ve got no ceiling on this, and we have enough ground here to grow this. It’s a great tournament which supports military and civilian charities, and supports the army, navy and RAF,” he said.
In the main event on Sunday, both the men’s and women’s tournament was won by invitational side Nomads 7s.