It’s 10am on a bright and blustery Sunday morning in Richmond, and I’m stood in the middle of a rugby pitch trying to stop our company flags from being carried off down field. Behind me, cartloads of ice are being ferried between marquees and in one corner, a group of surveyors-turned-scrum-halves are drinking Lucozade and stretching their muscles in the sun.
I’m here for the annual Surveyors Rugby Sevens tournament, an iconic industry event that pits 24 property companies against each other in an all-mighty scrum down. The tournament, which has been running since 1970 and has seen the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio through its gates, is best known for its fierce competitive spirit and equally aggressive socialising.
But the event also has a charitable side, and a generous one at that. Last year’s tournament brought in £25,000 for LandAid and the FRE Flyers – raised through a mixture of bucket shaking, programme-selling and a contribution from the committee - and we’re hoping to match that today.
I spend much of the day cajoling innocent bystanders and half-injured/inebriated rugby players into taking part in our Rollapaluza competition (think head-to-head racing on spinning bikes and you’re not far off) which we’re running for the first time. 500 metres at full pelt on a static road bike is more difficult that it sounds and I only manage to cross the line in a mediocre 31 seconds.
For some, however, cycling is their ball game. Bilfinger GVA surveyor and all-round cycling pro Rupert Parker puts an outstanding 22 seconds on the clock, and fellow cyclist (although more of a ‘distance man’ I’m told) Richard Trubshaw finishes in a strong 24 seconds.
We’re lucky to have a fantastic cohort of volunteers helping us out today: the lovely Capstone Recruitment who have sponsored our marquee and put on a selection of beverages for our thirsty guests, LandAid Ambassador Nick Bailey, Sarah Lansdell, Matt Roberts, Rebecca Hunt and Johnny Macintosh.
Back to the main event and Knight Frank have shrugged off Savills to reach the grand final. They’re up against newcomers Stirling Ackroyd. It’s a feisty affair, with Knight Frank determined to hold onto the crown they won last year and Stirling keen to make an impression.
As evening approaches, glasses are refilled, bruised limbs are iced and high-fives are dealt. In the LandAid camp we’re busy counting coins - £2,800 worth to be precise. That’s a fantastic day’s work and a big thanks is owed to our volunteers.
The committee kindly contribute £22,200 to take the day's grand fundraising total to £25,000. We can do a huge amount of good with that money. We can support projects like the Kinetic Foundation who use football as a catalyst for change in Croydon. We can help young people to access the opportunities they deserve and give them the tools to fulfill their potential.
As the sun sets on another year of Sevens and the many sun-burnt spectators (myself included) make their way home, cheers can still be heard from the Stirling Ackroyd tent (they defeated Knight Frank by 15 points to 10). It's great to see that this iconic event - a celebration of property, sportsmanship and increasingly, charity - is still so popular 45 years on.