History of Forum 7s
The F7s Story
'Writing articles for fun'
The Forums Sevens (F7s) concept was first suggested in 2000-2001 by several website forum members who thought it was a good idea for fellow members to compete in a fun article writing competition.
In 2002, forum member 'Tappy', the 'father of the F7s', put forward a proposal to the owners of the rleague forums to have a F7s competition. The inaugural F7s premiership was won by the Eastern Suburbs Roosters side, defeating the Balmain Tigers.
Initially, the competition involved all seven team members writing an article and the word limit was 500 words (by 2003, this was extended to 750 words with five players plus two reserves).
The Rleague and Ish-Biz split
The F7s, however, had a tumultuous start as in-fighting surfaced. In a battle which some forummers dubbed the 'F7s Super League War', squabbles between the F7s management and rleague management threatened to destroy the competition. It was an acrimonious split which saw fights spilling over into the open forum.
'Tappy' left rleague and attempted to set up the F7s on an independent forum at the 'ish-biz' website run by 'Mr Bulldogs'. Meanwhile rleague members attempted to set up their own F7s competition for season 2003, but this never got off the ground. Rleague management removed all F7s posts from their forums and removed discussion about the new ish-biz location.
2003 - The 'death' of the F7s
For a time, with no solid base and many players deciding to depart, the F7s looked unlikely to survive. The competition appeared to be in more trouble when in early 2003, 'Tappy' departed. Then after just three rounds of the 2003 competition, the ish-biz forums suddenly and inexplicably disappeared. For all intents and purposes, the F7s was 'dead'.
As a result, most of the F7s records prior to round 4 in 2003 were lost forever more.
Despite the circumstances, there were those who were determined to continue. An agreement was made to try and save the competition in the newly formed 'The Front Row' (TFR) forums at LeagueUnlimited.com.
So it happened that the remnants of Easts, Bluebags, Panthers, Souths, Dragons, Broncos, Rhinos, and 'Parradogs' (Parra-Bulldogs, a temporary merger) decided to resurrect the competition. A number of TFR members, including 'Willow', 'The Backpacker', 'Ozzie', 'Big Mick', 'Seano' and 'Penelope Pittstop' decided that regardless of the obstacles, the 2003 F7s competition would see out the season... and see out the season they did.
The LeagueUnlimited F7s set about to promote 'cross-fan' participation and sportsmanship. That is, to encourage fans from opposing bases of opinion to join forces and leave their differences at the door. This was a major change from the old rleague format and went a long way to ensuring the success of the F7s at Leagueunlimited.
With the first three rounds having been lost at ish-biz, and limited personnel to speak of (players would often double as referees), the remainder of 2003 season was a difficult one. During the season, the Dragons and the Rhinos folded, leaving the F7s with just 6 teams, all of whom were struggling for players. But the competition was kept intact and against the odds, the 2003 season was completed.
In an exciting 2003 grand final, minor premiers the Roosters defeated the Bluebags by the narrowest of margins to take out the premiership for the second year running. The F7s had survived and was here to stay!
In 2004, the F7s saw the return of the Rhinos, the Pirates formed a team as did newcomers, the Lions. In all, there were nine teams: Roosters, Bluebags, Souths, Lions, Panthers, Parramatta, Sharks, Pirates and the Rhinos.
Also in 2004, LeagueUnlimited launched this F7s website, formalising the competition and providing a true home base with sponsorship and prizes for F7s participants. The F7s saw unprecedented growth in 2004 with over 140 players participating.
The 2004 season was played in true competitive spirit and coming into the semi-finals, seven out of the nine teams were still a chance of making the play-offs. Souths were minor premiers but were narrowly defeated by the Sharks and then Newtown. Coming into the Grand Final, the Sharks had put together a six game winning streak to win the Most Improved Team of the Year award. The Sydney Lions, in their inaugural year, qualified for the finals after defeating hot favourites the Newtown Bluebags just before the semifinals But the Bluebags were too good, bouncing back to ultimately take out the premiership, defeating a gallant Sharks outfit in the 2004 Grand Final.
The Backpacker Player Rankings
With the 2004 season in full swing, F7s forummers were delivered the sad news that Easts player and F7s referee, 'The Backpacker' had passed away. A foundation member of the F7s in 2002, 'BP' played an instrumental role in the push to keep the competition afloat in 2003. His passing added new meaning to the F7s when it was announced that the 2004 semifinals would be known as 'The Backpacker Finals' and the 2004 premiers would be awarded 'The Backpacker Memorial Shield'.
The F7s player rankings for the highest scoring players are known as 'The Backpacker Player Rankings' in honour of The Backpacker who instigated the point scoring system.
With participants competing from all over the world, it seemed a natural progression for the F7s to have its very own Tri-Nations series. Since 2002, F7s forummers have always loved playing representative matches. Records for these began being kept at LeagueUnlimited in 2003. The F7s has seen City v Country, New South Wales v Queensland and 'Rest of the World' v Australia being amongst the rep match honours available.
The F7s Tri-Nations series originated in 2004 with three trophies up for grabs: The Tawera Nikau Cup (Australia v New Zealand), The Henry and Robbie Paul Cup (New Zealand v Great Britain) and The Brian Bevan Cup (Great Britain v Australia).
In 2005 the popularity of the F7s grew with more teams eager to join, culminating in a 12 team competition. The three new teams, Raiders, Bulls, and Dirty Reds, acquitted themselves excellently in the new 'Possibles vs Probables' (PVP) pre-season tournament of 2004-2005. The Raiders (PVP Plate winners) ultimately won the PVP Cup after defeating the Bulls (PVP Shield winners). The PVP trials provided opportunity with the 'newbies' defeating the more established teams in fine style, thus paving the way for an exciting season. Eventual minor premiers, the Raiders had an amazing season. Fielding a team of talented rookies, the Raiders won their first seven matches setting a new F7s record.
The year however, belonged to the Coos Bay Pirates. Wooden spooners in 2004, the Pirates produced an amazing turnaround to qualify for the Grand Final and take out the 2005 F7s premiership.
The 2005 season saw no less than 180 players competing. Representative and trial matches included, the 2005 F7s saw 86 games in nine months - an increase of over 30 matches on the previous year. In 2005, players in the F7s match forum posted over 760 articles! And every one of them was marked by a referee.
The completion of 2005 saw three teams depart. Foundation F7s club and dual premiers Easts were battling to field a team and announced they would not be competing in 2006. The Rhinos and single seasoners the Bulls also departed.
Meanwhile, the Glebe Dirty Reds relocated closer to their Newcastle member base and had an immediate impact in the PVP tournament of 2005-2006, making it all the way to the Shield final. The Sharks however, fought back from the brink to win the PVP Shield of 2005. The off-season tournament also produced a winner with a brand new team in the Warriors, the young New Zealand-based side winning the PVP Plate of 2005 and joining the F7s in a more streamlined 10 team competition for 2006.
The 2006 season saw 10 teams competing: Pirates, Raiders, Lions, Panthers, Eels, Bluebags, Rabbitohs, Knights, Sharks and Warriors.
The season ultimately belonged to the Parramatta Eels. Minor premiers and eventual champions, the Eels put together a tremendous season of 10 wins from 12 matches. In an exciting semifinals series, the Eels were challenged by the Newtown Bluebags who actually defeated the Eels in the major semi-final. But the Eels came back, defeating the Panthers in the preliminary final before reaping revenge on the Bluebags in the grand final.
In other news and in an extraordinary season, the Pirates went from premiers to wooden spooners for the second time, then declared their team would be folding, thus ending a roller coaster ride of three seasons where they were premiers once and wooden spooners twice. The Sydney Lions also departed after three credible seasons where they were semi-finalist twice. In addition, 2005 grand finalists the Raiders and 2004 grand finalists the Sharks also exited at the conclusion of the season. In their place, new teams the Cougars joined up (from the ashes of the Sharks and the Lions) as well as successful trial entrants the Chuck Norris Texas Death Ninjas, the competition providing eight teams to the contest the 2007 season that lay ahead.
The 2007 season saw eight teams competing: Eels, Bluebags, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Knights, Warriors as well as newcomers, Ninjas and Cougars.
The season was dominated by an experienced Bluebags outfit. Minor Premiers, Grand Finalists and Premiers, the Bluebags were never headed in 2007 and became the first F7s team to go through a season undefeated. The 'bags' highlighted their powerful performance with nine consecutive victories to set a new F7s record for a winning streak.
Far from disgraced, runners-up The Warriors put in a sterling performance in their effort to stage an upset in the grand final. The Bluebags, however, were able to withstand the Warriors challenge and take out the prize.
2007 was the final season for referee antonius, the veteran adjudicator hanging up the whistle following the grand final. In a career which began in 2004, antonius oversaw a record 57 first class matches, including three grand finals.
Season 2008 saw nine teams competing: Bluebags, Warriors, Ninjas, Rabbitohs, Eels, Cougars, Panthers, Dragons and Titans. The Knights had departed but seven teams from the 2007 season remained. In addition, 2008 saw the return of foundation club the St George Dragons as well as the Gold Coast Titans.
The season was again dominated by the Bluebags. The 2007 premiers went through the minor premiership undefeated for the second year running, and swept through the semi-finals in similar fashion.
But the 'bags were dogged by F7s newbies the Titans (the two teams played a draw in round 8).
The best two teams of 2008 eventually faced off in the grand final with the Titans winning by 449-448, just one point in it. It was enough to end the Bluebags' undefeated streak and for the Titans to take out the 2008 premiership.
THE F7s WORLD CUP
2008 also saw the F7s World Cup added to the representative fixtures. The F7s World Cup was adjusted to a 3v3 format and had six teams competing: Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Malta, and Papua New Guinea. In an exciting final, Papua New Guinea convincingly defeated Australia 262-245.
Season 2009 gave way to nine teams competing, the Ninjas were no more but their place was filled by two time premiers Easts, the Roosters reforming in honour of former skipper ozzie who reportedly passed away during 2008. Easts Roosters performed well in 2009, qualifying for the semi-finals.
The nine teams of 2009: Titans, Bluebags, Warriors, Eels, Cougars, Rabbitohs, Panthers, Dragons, Roosters.
The season saw three genuine contenders rise to the top. 2008 runners-up the Bluebags secured the minor premiership for an incredible third year running. Not far behind were 2008 premiers the Titans. 2007 runners-up the Warriors firmed into third place. Only two competition points separated the top three semi-finalists, while Easts and the Panthers were six points adrift.
Stalwarts the Panthers eliminated fellow formation club Easts to progress to the sudden-death minor semi-final. Over the road, the Titans accounted for the Warriors, setting up a major semi-final showdown against the Bluebags. The following round saw the Warriors defeat the Panthers. Meanwhile, the old guard Bluebags confronted a tough rising Titans side, the two teams establishing a healthy rivalry in 2009 through the 'Sandy Crack Cup' (the two teams played previously in round 1, the Bluebags winning). The Bluebags won the encounter, thus qualifying for their sixth grand final appearance. In the preliminary final, the Titans defeated a valiant Warriors outfit to advance to their second grand final in as many years.
The 2009 Grand Final was hard fought, and eventually won by the Bluebags. Controversy followed with opposing camps arguing over the result, scenes not seen since the upheavals of 2002.
2009 FOUR NATIONS SERIES
In 2009, the F7s staged a Four Nations Series. World Cup holders Papua New Guinea where considered an immediate selection, and they didn't let their team down.
TEAMS: Papua New Guinea Kumuls, Great Britain & Ireland Lions, New Zealand Kiwis, Australia Kangaroos.
Papua New Guinea grabbed the F7s double - The 2008 World Cup and the 2009 Four Nations.
Relative newcomers to the F7s landscape, the PNG side won their second trophy following an additional 'power play' post in extra time, defeating the NZ Kiwis.
The seven teams of 2010: Newtown Bluebags, Gold Coast Titans, Penrith Panthers, Easts 'Ozzie' Roosters, Parramatta Eels, South Sydney Rabbitohs, St George Dragons.
2010 saw the Panthers take an early lead at the top of the F7s ladder with a narrow win over the Eels. Meanwhile, 2009 runners up the Titans drew first blood following a round one victory over the reigning premiers Bluebags. The Rabbitohs performed well to take their place in the top three after downing the Dragons
The battle for top spot continued with the Titans leading the way for the next four rounds, the Bluebags and Panthers not far away. But the momentum of the competition changed dramatically when the Titans were defeated by the Panthers in round six, losing their first match of the year and opening the door for the Bluebags.
Following their round seven victory over the Roosters, the Bluebags secured the minor premiership for the fourth season running.
With the top five decided, the 2010 Semi-Finals were contested by the Bluebags, Titans, Panthers, Dragons and Rabbitohs. The Roosters and the Eels fell just below the cut.
The first round of Qualifiers saw the Panthers narrowly defeat the Titans, registering back-to-back victories over the 2009 grand finalists. In the other semi, the Dragons eliminated the Rabbitohs with a convincing victory. The Panthers continued their run with a narrow win over reigning premiers the Bluebags in the major semi-final, thereby progressing to the grand final. Meanwhile the Titans kept their season alive with a solid win over the Dragons.
The Bluebags and Titans fought it out in the preliminary final, the winner earning the right to take on the Panthers in the grand final. In a close contest, the Bluebags won and progressed to the decider.
The stage was set for the much anticipated grand final between the Panthers and the Bluebags. In a 5v5 showdown, referee Non Terminator delivered the verdict by the closest of margins - the Newtown Bluebags winning the match 440-439 to record their fourth premiership trophy.
Such was the closeness of the grand final, the Ozzie Medal (Player of the Match) was jointly shared by Drew-sta (Bluebags) and Big Mick (Panthers co-captain).
2010 WILLOW CUP
Following a proposal from Titans captain Titanic, the Willow Cup was introduced in 2010. A mid-season knock-out competition, the tournament sees all premiership teams competing, Under the rules of the competition, all Willow Cup matches are considered 'first class' and therefore added to a player's records. The Cup draw is seeded, games are 3v3 (+ 4 reserves each) and the rounds have a fast turnaround. The inaugural Willow Cup was won by the Bluebags, defeating the Titans 262-261 in the final. Players of the Match in the final were Drew-Sta (Bluebags) and Titanic (Titans captain). The Player of the Series was Drew-Sta (Bluebags).
2010 FOUR NATIONS SERIES
Teams competing: Papua New Guinea Kumuls, Great Britain & Ireland Lions, New Zealand Kiwis, Australia Kangaroos.
The 2010 F7s Four Nations was won by New Zealand, defeating the previous trophy holders Papua New Guinea by 542-536 in the final. Jesbass (Kiwis captain) was named
Player of the Match. In a first for the F7s, the game saw the introduction of two referees with gorilla and Non Terminator combining scores.
OTHER REP GAMES
In other representative fixtures, Australia defeated New Zealand in the Anzac Test (426-424) and Queensland Maroons defeated New South Wales Blues in the F7s State of Origin (433-345). The Player of the Match honours were shared in the Anzac Test with Titanic (Australia) and Jesbass (New Zealand) taking the podium. In the Origin clash, madunit (QLD) and bartman (NSW) shared the award. Antonius refereed both matches.