Alby Pattison was able to look back with pride on two fronts at the end of the Bangkok International Rugby Sevens.

With Hart Innovations as the sponsor of the annual rugby spectacular, he witnessed a successful tournament featuring almost 40 sides, from South East Asia, Central Asia, New Zealand and Europe.

The team which travelled the longest, Hartlepool, emerged with victory in the Shield final.

Alby was the inspiration for the united town entry with team manager John Bickerstaff leading the squad superbly off the field with Liam Bailwy doing likewise on the field.

"It's been incredible," said Alby, the boss at Hart Biologicals.

"We did some sponsorship here at the event two years ago, principally for a ladies team coming across to play here from Cambodia.

"Hart Innovations were going to sponsor the 2016 Bangkok International Rugby Sevens, but the tournament was cancelled as Thailand mourned the death of their king.

"So, we are back this year and proud to sponsor this competition."

To emphasise the huge appeal of women's and junior rugby, there were 10 sides in the female draw and sections for Under 18 and Under 16 male divisions.

"The standard of the female and youth rugby at the tournament was amazing and it's great to be involved in the development of rugby in this part of the world," added Alby.

The New Zealand-side, Pacific Warriors, predictably took the main title, no shock given they included two ex-All Blacks sevens stars Lote Raikabula and Roy Kinikinilau.

However, there was success for the Hartlepool team.

Made up of players from five town clubs, plus two guests from Hartlepool's link up with Hong Kong rugby, they began and ended the championship with wins against Lao Nagas, the Laos national squad.

The last win saw the squad at their best, battling with searing temperatures and lively opponents, to lift the shield, 19-5.

Hartlepool had to do it the hard way, trailing to a first-half unconverted Lao try, but they came away with a trophy in style.

The town side's leading tournament scorer set them on their way, Jack McCallum breaking from half-way to score under the posts with a scintillating burst.

Cameron Lithgo converted for a 7-5 lead and it was soon 14-5 as Liam Austwicke went over from close range with Lithgo again adding the extras.

There was more to come as McCallum, Alex Rochester and Adam Smith all combined before Bailey finished in the corner.

Hartlepool came close to a fourth through Alex Bayliss but the Hart Innovations-sponsored side ended worthy winners.


Images courtesy of Paul Lincoln