- Published on 11 April 2023
The Impi’s win their first international trophy at the Melrose Sevens Tournament in Scotland
Success for the Monaco Impi’s! The rugby 7s team surprised everyone by winning the 1883 Centenary Cup Competition of the Melrose Sevens Tournament, this Saturday, April 8, 2023.
Their first participation in this tournament gave a first title for the Impi’s, notably thanks to a mastered final against one of the most feared teams of the tournament, the Samurai (26-12).
The Impi’s (“warriors” in Zulu) wear the colours of the Monegasque Rugby Federation and the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation in international “invitational” tournaments. Bringing together players of different nationalities, the team aims to train Monegasque players in contact with teammates and opponents of an international level.
Since their inception in 2017, the team had competed several times in the Emirates Dubai 7s Tournament, and took part this year in its first European tournament in Melrose.
This trip to Scotland was very symbolic for the Impi’s. The Melrose tournament is considered the birthplace of rugby 7s 140 years ago, and it brings together the best European teams in this discipline every year.
This first trophy is therefore a great pride for Monaco, won in the face of adversity and with a reshuffled team that met only a few days before the start of the tournament.
Gareth Wittstock, Secretary General of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation and Honorary President of the Monegasque Rugby Federation, reflects on this triumph:
“This is a massive success, and we are immensely proud that all our hard work has paid off. Coming to Melrose was a new and unknown challenge for us, and we are still left speechless at how things went in our favor. All credit goes to the coach and the players, who made it count when it mattered against formidable opponents. Building this team was a wonderful adventure since the beginning, and we are now full of confidence for the future.”
The team selected for the Melrose tournament was composed of 4 players from the Monegasque national team (Ian Soren Cabioch, Romain Roccia, Florian Rodrigo, Ioan Tolosano), Jamaicans Tyler Bush (captain), Conan Osborne and Oliver Melville, Augustin Slowik (Stade Niçois), Lucas Oudard (Clermont Ferrand), Branden Holder (Vannes), Ewan Guy (Scotland) and Oliver Brown (England).
Tyler Bush, team captain, was voted the best player of the Melrose Sevens tournament.
The road to victory
The presence of former Impi’s star Collins Injera, newly inducted into the Melrose Hall of Fame, inspired the team for the start of the tournament Saturday afternoon.
In a knockout format without a group stage, the Impi’s were off to an ideal start against the Hearts + Balls MB team (38 – 0) to be in a good position for the rest of the competition.
On the road to the final, two convincing successes followed against major rugby 7s sides: the London Scottish Lions (26-15) and Sperenza22 (24-17), an international team that the Impi’s had already faced in the Dubai 7s.
The final began near the end of the day with a tribute to Doddie Weir, Scottish rugby union player. The Impi’s showed a lot of courage and efficiency to overcome the formidable Samurai, against all odds (26-12).
David Bolgashvili, coach of the Impi’s, praised the strength of his team: “We’ve only existed for six years. We didn’t reach a final anywhere…. The players come from different backgrounds, from all over the place, and yet they gelled together into a side. It’s a magic experience to do so much. I’m very proud of the way they have come together – more than even the result.”
Nicolas Bonnet, technical director of the Federation and assistant coach, highlighted the remarkable spirit of the group that came to Melrose: “We have built a team stone by stone. There was a great cohesion, and it is to be emphasized especially that we had only four training sessions together, for some just two with the rest of the group… I saw a lot of seriousness during the sessions, but I think the team was mostly built on D-Day, at the time of the tournament. ».
- First round: Monaco Impi’s 38 – 0 Hearts + Balls MB
- Quarter finals: Monaco Impi’s 26 – 15 London Scottish Lions
- Semi finals: Monaco Impi’s 24 – 17 Speranza 22
- Final: Monaco Impi’s 26 – 12 Samuraï
A trip on behalf of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation
Ahead of the tournament, Impi’s players and representatives of the team, of the Foundation and of the Federation travelled to Queensferry, a few kilometres from Edinburgh, to visit the local RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) station.
The RNLI has been an important partner of the Foundation for many years, implementing flagship drowning prevention projects in countries such as Bangladesh and Tanzania.
In the UK, the RNLI saves lives every day through a large network of lifeguards and stations that operate thanks to volunteers.
The Impi’s players were thus able to get acquainted with the RNLI facilities and discover the daily life of a rescuer at sea, to better understand the Foundation’s main mission: saving lives by preventing drowning.
The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation supports the Impi’s project to enable young Monegasque players to develop and grow together thanks to the values of sport: solidarity, respect, integrity and discipline.