Dramatic late try sees University rugby team retain Red Bull 7s title in front of capacity Rec crowd
A last-gasp try from Luca Petrozzi ensured the University of Bath rugby sevens team successfully defended their European crown in front of a capacity crowd at The Rec, home of Bath Rugby, on Saturday.
It sealed a thrilling 26-24 victory over Hartpury College in the final, watched by more than 12,000 spectators, as the University retained the Red Bull Uni 7s title after an exciting day of competition.
To cap a memorable occasion, University of Bath player Will Britton – a Sports & Social Sciences student – made his Bath Rugby debut when he came on as a second-half replacement in the 30-21 win over Premiership rivals Gloucester Rugby.
That match – part of the West Country Challenge Cup series – and the Red Bull Uni 7s all took place at The Rec during a festival to mark Bath Rugby’s 150th anniversary.
The University of Bath, as defending champions and hosts, took on other great rugby institutions representing the countries of the Six Nations – Hartpury College (England), Dublin City University (Ireland), Stirling University (Scotland), Cardiff Metropolitan University (Wales), University of Pau and Pays de l’Adour (France) and University of Padova (Italy).
Bath relinquished a half-time lead to lose their opening fixture against England but that disappointment spurred them on for the rest of the day.
A hard-fought 14-12 victory in their last round-robin match against Wales set up a rematch with Hartpury, who had also beaten the University at the BUCS 7s tournament earlier in the year.
The University’s 12-player squad had already been depleted to nine by this point and they picked up another injury during the first half of the final, which was played during half-time of the match between Bath Rugby and Gloucester Rugby.
And when Hartpury scored a converted try two minutes from time to take a 24-21 lead, it looked like it might be a game too far.
However, there was still time for one more dramatic twist as Italy under-20 international Petrozzi – a Modern Languages and European Studies student – touched down with virtually the last touch of the game.
Aaron James, Head of Rugby at the University of Bath, said: “It was an outstanding effort from the boys, who showed tremendous character and work-rate throughout the day.
“It has been a hard pre-season and I’m really pleased for the players to get this reward. Credit to the support staff too – physios Katie Williams and Jack Dawkins, and strength and conditioning coach Dan Nisbett.
“Thank you also to Bath Rugby and Red Bull for their brilliant hospitality.”
The University of Bath rugby players will return to The Rec on Wednesday for their opening British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) fixture of the season against local rivals Bristol University.
Derby Day kicks off at 6pm and entry is free, although spectators who buy a programme for £2 will be entered into a prize draw to win a signed England Rugby World Cup shirt.
The match will be preceded by a touch-rugby tournament on the St Johns Sports Pitches at the University of Bath from 12-3pm.