Forty-three days after Scotland savaged England at Murrayfield to win rugby union’s Calcutta Cup, revenge of sorts was served amid the arguably more exotic climes of the Coolangatta Beachfront at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
England’s Chris Gregory and Jake Sheaf dispatched rivals Robin Brodzski and Seain Cook in straight sets, 21-14 21-17 to book their place in the beach volleyball semi-finals.
British beach volleyball is still so nascent in its development that the fates of its teams are almost inevitably intertwined: Gregory and Sheaf were both ushers at Brodzski’s wedding, while Gregory and Cook are former Great Britain team-mates.
“It’s a sad thing that we had to play each other so early in the competition,” said the 6ft 8ins Gregory.
“We’ve trained and even lived together in the past. It felt like an English tour event almost, just with a slightly bigger crowd.”
English beach volleyball benefits from a purpose-built facility in Bournemouth, which Sheaf described as “bigger and slightly more luxurious” than the barn commandeered by their counterparts when inclement weather ended their training programme on Edinburgh’s Portobello beach.
“The facility allows us to train all year round, but now we need to use it in the right way and develop a programme which gets the juniors coming through and gets beach volleyball booming.
“We’re trying to do everything we can on and off court to develop the sport. Hopefully this event and our results will inspire some more people to get involved, and then it is up to us to provide them with a pathway.”