It's that time of year again, when rugby pros take to the sand behind the Holiday Inn of Fort Myers Beach (6890 Estero Blvd.) for fast-paced rugby, during the 10th annual Beerfoot Beach 7s Rugby Tournament, hosted by the Naples Hammerheads Rugby Club, sweeping the shoreline Saturday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Spectators are encouraged to hit the sand that day for some all-out rugby fun, cheering on their favorites of the 24 men's teams, eight women's teams and six "old boy" teams, all competing for the championship. This is an intense beach sport that's a riot to watch.
"This is America's biggest and best beach 7s tournament, taking place right here on Fort Myers Beach," said Dan Banks, coordinator of the tournament and teammate of the soon-to-be-competing Sweat Hogs. "We'd love for spectators to come on out and catch all of the action from the sidelines. As it's 7s rugby, not 15, there are fewer people on the field, allowing it to be a lot faster, high-paced and an entertaining sport to watch."
The 10th annual Beerfoot Beach 7s Rugby Tournament will be sweeping the shores of FMB Saturday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the sands behind the Holiday Inn. The public is welcome to gather and cheer on the 38 teams in three divisions. Shortly after, swing by the Sandbar for the awards ceremony, then hop along with the players for a benefit poker run pub crawl. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.
During the tournament, spectators are welcome to take part in cheering on the teams, as well as taking home a tournament T-shirt or other fun rugby merchandise from Rugby Imports, one of the many sponsors.
Once the tournament has concluded, the boys (and girls) will have an hour to wash up before hitting the awards ceremony at 5:30 p.m., taking place at the Sandbar and Grill in the Santini Marina Plaza, also open to the public.
After that, the rugby players will kick off another long-standing tradition: their benefit poker run and pub crawl.
"We always have a blast during the pub crawls after the tournament," Dan said. "Everyone is invited to join us on the crawl, which will start at the Sandbar at 6 p.m."
From there, Dan said the rugby players will head out to four more Fort Myers Beach establishments, with bus transportation provided, also open for those following along, to ensure safe driving.
"In one-hour increments, we'll then head to Hooters at 7 p.m., The Cottage at 8 p.m., The Mermaid at 9 p.m. and The Surf Club at 10 p.m.," Dan said. "And for $10 or $15, you can participate in the poker run, with a cash prize given at the end of the night. Proceeds of the event will go to Lee County Parks and Recreation's disadvantaged youth program, a group we help as often as we can."
Dan was eager to state the Naples Hammerheads hope to host a national women's rugby championship in November at JetBlue Park. He also mentioned local players were proud to boast that 7s rugby will be re-introduced to the Summer Olympic games, beginning with the Brazilian games in 2016, and a couple of our very own Southwest Florida players are hopefuls to compete.
For more information on the Beerfoot 7s Rugby Tournament, visit Beerfoot7s.com. For more information on the Naples Hammerheads Rugby Club, visit HammerheadRugby.com.