This past Saturday, forty-seven years of scrums, tries and tackles culminated in the largest Rugby 7s Afterparty to date. Held for the first time at Pondside, a humble field hidden behind Andrew Melville, the event melded the inherently raucous nature of rugby with the foamy fun of a house party. Further combining cheap alcohol, an eclectic guest list, and a powerful, pulsing sound system, and the party was anything but dull. Considering the state of the guests as they limped home at closing time, it certainly could be called the afterparty to end all afterparties – at least, for that particular night.
The Afterparty followed a gripping day of rugby – frigid at times, windy at others, yet always entertaining. Despite a strong show from the St Andrews Cavaliers, Durham ultimately emerged triumphant from the highly competitive Performance Tournament. They stood alongside the three Social Tournament champions: the Great North Molerats, the Skitesaders, and the Richmond Renegades. To clinch their victory, Durham took home an additional trophy from the Women’s Tournament.
Beyond a brief bout of icy rain and a slightly delayed timeframe, the tournament itself was an unbridled success. Students from across the country flocked to University Park in support of their home teams, drawn by the rugby and undaunted by the chill. Once arrived, the Union bar and Buffalo Farm burgers provided guests with adequate warmth.
With the most overall teams playing, St Andrews gave its supporters plenty to cheer for. In the Performance Tournament, the Scott Docherty-led Cavaliers won an early game against Dundee High, with a final score of 38-12. On the Social side of things, the Freshers narrowly lost to the Blackhorn Bulls; however, the standard of play remained high.
Once the games had been settled, rugby aficionados and novices alike could unite under the common cause of cheap alcohol. The sight of hundreds of students migrating towards the sound of music, like moths seeking a flame, brought to mind memories of school house parties. The unpretentiousness of the Afterparty contributed to this nostalgic aroma: Guests were, for once, bedecked not in black tie, but in blue jeans and trainers. Spearheaded by the rugby club’s own Ashton Squires, the music adopted a similarly relaxed tactic, as the speakers were dominated almost exclusively by throwbacks.
(An honorary mention must go to the night’s opening DJs, the trio of Scott Docherty, Harry Jose, and Sevens Convenor Rory Gardner, who ably handled the initial throng.)
As an introduction to Pondside, St Andrews could have done far worse. The sizeable marquee contained no fewer than four different bars and a circular stage. This allowed guests to rotate around the room, rather than dancing strictly in one area. The extra £5 charged this year for tickets was palpable in production value, from the multi-coloured lights to the smoke machine to the surprise dumping of foam onto the dancefloor.
The foam clinched the night’s unique appeal. Guests did not shy away from the chaos; instead, they embraced it. When the clock struck 1.30 and the event came to an abrupt close, you would be hard-pressed to find a clean trainer in the vicinity.
On a final delicious note, the Blackhorn food truck could be found outside the marquee, serving their full menu of burgers and wraps. Per usual, queues rivalled – and at times, surpassed – those for the bars, a testament to the irresistible nature of the chunky chip. Assuming guests have recovered by this Saturday, the food truck will return for the hotly anticipated St Andrews Charity Polo Tournament.
Ultimately the Rugby 7s Afterparty was messy, unabashed fun. We can only hope for an equally foamy forty-eighth year in 2018!