Off the west coast of Scotland, the 10th staging of the unique Islay Beach Rugby tournament took place in front of the White Hart Hotel in Port Ellen, in glorious sunshine on Saturday 8th June. The event has traditionally enjoyed good weather and provides one of the social and sporting highlights of the Islay calendar. Over a thousand spectators gathered on the banking beside the beach to enjoy fearsome competition from twenty two men's and eight women's teams. Conditions were perfect as a prolonged spell of dry weather provided deep, soft, powdery sand. Whilst this meant it was utterly exhausting to play on, it probably accounted for the lower injury count this year which is always welcome. Billed as "Blood on the Beach", the spectacle of fast, furious, full contact rugby made for great entertainment.
The winners of the 'Laddie Cup' were The Mercian Regiment who were making their first appearance at the tournament. Runners up were fellow debutants Garnoch. Last year's winners Kilchoman won the Plate, beating Oban in their final while the Bowl was taken home by Trinity who prevailed over Ardbeg.
The Lassie Cup was won by Team 200 who were also joining us for the first time. They beat Melrose Ladies, a club that has been a long term supporter of Islay Beach Rugby and it should be noted that the standard of rugby played by the women was very high this year. The 'hits' have always been fierce but this time round some the of the passing and movement from both sides in the final were mesmerizingly fast.
The competition is sponsored by Bruichladdich Distillery and Rhino Rugby were the ball supplier and joint sponsor for the first time. Rhino Rugby MD, Anthony Locke said: "It was an absolute pleasure to be involved in such a well run and well attended event. Congratulations to the winners but also to all players for performing at the highest levels of sportsmanship despite the extremely physical nature of the contest. I'd like to thank everyone involved for making us feel so welcome on the island and to the organisers for putting together such a fantastic event."