The Kiama Sevens tournament, which took place last Saturday, is one of the most important pre-season fixtures on the Goulburn Dirty Reds' calendar.
Not only is it a good chance for the men's and women's squads to stretch their legs, but, as stalwart Mik Webber said, it is an ideal opportunity for team-building.
"It was a good social, team-bonding day away," Webber said.
"We had a big night as well, so with all the new guys we have, it served its purpose in that sense."
On paper, the results were not as strong as those to which the Dirty Reds have become accustomed.
The men, who won the tournament in 2019 and 2020, only managed a single victory on Saturday.
The women, meanwhile, fared better and made it to the final of the Carter and Ferguson Women's Country Cup, which they lost to the Jindabyne Miss Piggies, 27-0.
Webber knew the 2021 tournament might be more challenging for the men, as many of the Dirty Reds' more experienced players were absent.
"We had a pretty young side," he said.
"One of the guys had a buck's party, so we had quite a few of our players from previous years away. So predominantly, the side was made up of guys who are quite young and had just started with the club."
While the results did not go the team's way, Webber was still upbeat. The COVID-19 pandemic last year caused an influx of players to the Dirty Reds, many of whom have stayed on in 2021.
So while the Kiama Sevens did not result in another trophy for the club, it showed Webber that the numbers are likely to remain strong.
This is a positive sign for Goulburn, which had often struggled for numbers prior to 2020.
"We're still looking better, numbers-wise, than years before COVID," Webber said.
"We've kept a couple of the boys who came over from league and other rugby clubs. There's a few new faces, too, blokes who just came out of school and whatnot.
"Taking last year out of it, we're still looking better than years gone by."
Webber has also confirmed that he will not be coaching the men's team in 2021. After a year away from the role, former coach Ben Pearson will return to the helm for the upcoming season.
The Dirty Reds are also expected to return to the Canberra First Division First Grade competition, in which they competed before 2020.
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