Rotherham miss Sevens and face oblivion
Sunday 15 August 2004
Rotherham have been at sixes and sevens since the end of the season, but they were not at the Middlesex Sevens at all yesterday.
Debts rumoured to be running at £1.5m and a bunch of unhappy, unpaid players have played their part, and now their most recent attempts to sell-out to a South African consortium have been thwarted by the Rugby Football Union. It has all conspired to threaten the future of Rotherham as a professional club.
The South Yorkshire club has given midday tomorrow as a self-imposed deadline for new funding, after which, the RFU has been informed, Rotherham will cease to function as a rugby club.
As dramatic and final as that might sound, in fact Rotherham's future can only be described as uncertain. There are still whispers of a local consortium interested in buying out the club. But if they do go out of professional existence, the belief, locally, is that they will re-emerge as amateurs in Yorkshire League Six in a year's time.
They missed a high-quality tournament dominated by the British Army, who benefited from the Yorkshire club's withdrawal by getting into the quarter-finals on a walkover, and the pre-tournament favourites Gloucester.
The final was a titanic clash. The Army - fielding a battalion of Fijians - had run in nine tries on the way, Gloucester an impressive 12. The electric pace of Gloucester's trio of James - Forester, Bailey and Simpson-Daniel - as well as Marcel Garvey, caught the imagination of the 28,000 crowd and they started brilliantly, with Alex Page scoring in the first minute.
But Apolosi Satala, just back from Iraq, hit back with his fourth try of the tournament, which set up a dazzling battle. The brilliant Bailey scored his fourth, running the length of the pitch.
Ratu Naulivou countered after some unbelievable handling and Isoa Damudamu got the soldiers ahead. Gloucester were not finished, as Simpson-Daniel sprinted over to level the match.
Despite a great finish by Garvey, further touchdowns from Epeli Qelikibua (twice), Damudamu and Satala ensured victory for the second time in four years for the Army. Yet Gloucester's effort in getting to the final was all the more meritorious since they lost their playmaker, the England Sevens captain Simon Amor, with an ankle injury in their opening match against Newcastle, the eventual Plate winners.
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