Reigning champions Speranza22 will return to defend their Bournemouth 7s title next month.
The tournament, being held from May 24-26, was one of four trophies won in 2018 for the team established in 2013 in memory of former Abu Dhabi Harlequins player Marco Speranza, who was killed aged just 20 in a plane crash in his native Argentina in February of that year.
The team aims to keep Speranza’s legacy alive by ensuring they play good rugby while raising awareness and money for various good causes. To date, they have raised more than £20,000 for organisations including Try Rugby, set up to allow children with additional needs to learn through rugby, as well as current charity CCELA, an orphanage in Ethiopia.
They have also previously supported Mike Ballard, another Quins player who suffered a serious spinal injury in 2014 which has left him in a wheelchair. Ballard is trying out for the USA Para Olympic kayaking team as he targets the 2020 Paralympic Games.
Speranza spent much of his life in Abu Dhabi, where his father worked. He started playing rugby at 15 with Quins and it soon became apparent that he had a natural talent for the game. In 2009 he was part of an exceptional Quins U19 side that went on to win the Dubai Sevens U19 competition.
He stayed in Abu Dhabi after school for two seasons playing for the Quins senior side before returning home to start his training to become a commercial pilot when tragedy struck.
Since being set up it’s been a rapid rise to success for Speranza22 whose maiden tournament was at the 2013 Dubai Sevens International Open, where all of Speranza’s team-mates from the victorious 2009 Quins Gulf U18 side came together in memory of their team-mate.
The name was formed by using his surname and his date of birth, September 22 (22 was also the number he chose on his shirt in 2009). In that first year (2013) they reached the semi-final and Speranza22 was formed.
Since then, Speranza22 have a unique selection criteria in that they only select players who knew Speranza or someone who has previously played for Speranza22. To date they have had 72 players represent Speranza22 from countries including Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, Germany, Jamaica, Ireland, New Zealand, Romania, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga and the US, all whom are linked back to the man the team is named after.
In 2018, they decided to have a go at the UK and Ireland circuit to see how they would measure up against some of the best invitational and club sevens teams. The Bournemouth 7s Festival was top of their priority and they added another trophy to their cabinet as they claimed the Men’s Elite Cup.
Since 2013 they have achieved the following: 2013 Dubai Sevens International Open – Cup semi-finalists; 2014 Dubai Sevens International Open – Cup finalists; 2015 Dubai Sevens International Open – Cup quarter-finalists; 2017 Dubai Sevens International Invitational – Cup winners; 2017 Dubai Sevens International Open – Plate winners; 2018 Kinsale 7s Elite Men – Cup finalists; 2018 Bournemouth 7s Elite Men – Cup winners; 2018 Chester 7s Elite Men – Cup finalists; 2018 London Summer Social Elite Men – Plate winners; 2018 Dubai Sevens International Invitational – Cup quarter-finalists; 2018 Dubai 7s International Open – Cup winners.
In 2019 they were invited to be part of the UK Super 7s series. This is huge for Speranza22 as they have always wanted to test themselves regularly against the best and, for a relatively new side, to be asked to join the best sevens sides in the country based on recent results is a testament to how far they have come in such a short time.
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