HUNDREDS of rugby players from across the Eastern Counties gathered at Raven Park for the second annual Tom Miller 10s tournament, in memory of one of Colchester Rugby Club’s former players, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

On a scorching summer’s day, 23 teams of all abilities played a series of short-form ten-a-side matches on the club’s six pitches, culminating in a series of finals to end the day.

With the emphasis very definitely on fun rather than the strictly competitive, plenty of spectators were in attendance to watch the action, sample the various food and drink options and enjoy the non-stop musical soundtrack.

The main competition was emphatically won by the Colchester-based 7th Para team.

They started the day by beating the reigning champions and pre-tournament favourites The Pickett Select X, made up of a significant number of Colchester first team players, 12-5.

The Army team proved too strong for all-comers, thrashing Colchester’s 7-as-side team The Wise Monkeys 38-7 in the final, so winning the Tom Miller Cup which was presented to the team by Tom’s parents, Emily and Duncan.

Fittingly, the Social competition was won by Tommy’s Trumpeteers, a team made up of Tom Miller’s old school pals and led by current Colchester first team player Matt Parker.

They beat the Black Baabaas 19-5 in their final.

Colchester Iceni were runners-up in the ladies’ final; there was no shame in their 19-10 defeat by a very good team from Shelford RC.

Tom Miller was an ambassador for the Oddballs Foundation, and all proceeds from the festival went to the charity which raises awareness of testicular cancer.

Tournament organiser Ross Cowie was a happy – if exhausted – man at the end of the day.

He said: “It was a brilliant day. It was so good to see so many people enjoying rugby in the sun. It’s great for the game – and an awful lot of beer has been drunk!”

Ross paid tribute in particular to the team of referees and match officials from all over the region, who gave their time free of charge.