RUGBY returns to the county with a bang next weekend as the North Dorset 7s tournament gets under way at Gillingham.

After a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, one of the largest community-run one day rugby sevens tournaments in the South West will go ahead on Saturday, July 24 (9am) at North Dorset RFC.

Now in its eighth year, it promises to be the best event yet both on and off the field.

Boasting over 150 matches of rugby sevens across seven pitches and with 64 teams taking part, the tournament offers rugby for both elite and social players alike across the men’s and women’s game – there is even a tournament for ‘veteran’ over 35s.

The tournament also aims to build on the £13,000 raised for charitable partner Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) over the last seven editions, with over 12,000 spectators and 190 different teams having graced the pitches at North Dorset RFC in Gillingham.

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Throughout the event, visitors can enjoy a variety of local food stalls, visit ND7s’ sponsors and enjoy a variety of bars. The British & Irish Lions Test match against the reigning world champions South Africa (5pm) will also be broadcast on a giant 15m sq screen, with live music and DJs until late.

Tickets are available from and booking in advance is recommended, with limited camping tickets remaining.

Off the pitch, renowned British movie director Guy Ritchie’s own Gritchie Brewing Co will give visitors a taste of some of the best beer brewed in the UK with world class brewing expertise using local ingredients.

In addition, Jake Polledri, a 19-cap Italian international and Gloucester rugby player whose sensational new Just Pressed craft cider brand will be pulling pints throughout.

The tournament includes a party tent that will host the return of DJ Rossko, who many will remember as the resident DJ of Legends Nightclub in Gillingham in its heyday. As Rossko is now resident DJ at Atik in Windsor, it is a rare treat to find him behind the decks in Dorset.

Organisers have hungrily curated a food court that boasts wood fired pizza from Hidden Pizza, Mexican and Asian fast food from Urban Larder, Dorset ice cream from Arctic Cow, traditional summer barbecue and even a hog roast.

*CRY is a charity very close to the heart of North Dorset RFC after the sudden passing of their club captain Max Biles at the age of 29 in 2009.

CRY is a UK charity working to reduce young sudden cardiac death (YSCD). Every week in the UK, at least 12 young people die of undiagnosed hearer conditions.