Thursday 25 February 2021

The Accies College Cup (Race 2) – From City to Coast

Ahhh, Kinsale. One of the most picturesque and oldest towns in Ireland and famously considered the gourmet capital of Ireland. Located at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way, the smell of the Ocean is never far from your senses. High above the town overlooking the bay is Kinsale rugby club, home of the internationally renowned Kinsale Sevens and a perfect next stop in our series of College Cup races after Dublin.

In 2003, a squad of Accies would take part in Kinsale Sevens under the moniker of the Ben Tod Loungers. This would be the first of many Ben Tod tours that would eventually travel around the globe. The Ben Tod Magnets, Apples and Honey Badgers would return to Kinsale the following years and became so famous that we still have a mention on the official Kinsale Sevens website!

From the off, the Ben Tod teams were synonymous with flowing rugby, a fine dress sense, silky chat and the ability to fully integrate with local society. Winning rugby was not always a top priority, though one exceptional year saw the team reach the semi-finals of the 82-team social tournament. A young student called Coups would run in a number of tries, supported ably by veterans McVie, Thyne, Parrott and the Patersons. The highlight fixture of this run would be an excellent victory over the Stoned Pups (a semi-professional outfit that would go on to play in the final of the Middlesex Sevens). Taking place at the start of the second day of play, an ominous 14 minutes looked in store as the Accies seven rolled on to the pitch from various ‘resting’ points, only some of whom being awake to witness the starkly contrasting slick and vigorous warm up from the Pups. What followed was surely one of the finest performances in the history of Accies as the Stoned Pups were put to the sword with some flawless attacking sevens and an impenetrable last line of defence in Douglas Roberts. The fury coming from the Stoned Pups coaching staff perhaps only comparable with the angry realisation that the Accies now faced at least another fixture (and an invite to step up the senior tournament that was swiftly declined).

This special feat aside, it is in the post-match theatre where the Ben Tod teams truly excelled. With 2 mad dogs in the team (McKerrow and McLennan), there was always a possibility of something going awry. The highlights are too many and too varied to cover in this short column but a few to saviour include: Hector Cook piping the team down the quiet cobblestone streets with the locals providing a guard of honour in anticipation; the order for 12 Lobsters and 12 bottles of Chablis in Jim Edwards on arrival; Thyne and Sutherland teaching Sean Lamont the words to Flower of Scotland, the sing off against the champion South-Sea Drifters, led by the all-time great Waisale Serevi (we lost comfortably) and the numerous failed attempts to sneak Miss Cork into the well-guarded Guardwell Lodge. Oh, and what is Mad Mike doing in that bath?

Kinsale itself was always an excellent and friendly spot and the tournament has gone from strength to strength. A return seems well overdue as I write this, so anyone for a return in the vets tournament in 2022?


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