Encouraged by the IRFU President Andy Crawford, the Irish Exiles had their first tournament of the Sevens season at Carrickfergus, in the Guinness Carrick Sevens Tournament, which ran from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th April 2006.
The Exiles DHL had two Sevens teams in the tournament - (a) an U20 side, which played in the Kukri U20 event on the Friday evening, and (b) a Senior side, which played in the Guinness Open event on the Sunday. The Exiles were able to accept the invitation to Carrick thanks to their Sevens sponsor DHL and their kit sponsor OB Sport.
The U20's started the competition against Filton College Bristol and faced one of their own' players in Frank Jones, the Ireland U18 Clubs fly-half. This was a well-fought game with the Exiles DHL Seven eventually running out winners by 19 points to 10. As the competition wore on, the excellent sevens play of the young Exiles squad won over the crowd with Matthew Betty and Daniel Wagner attracting applause for their quick feet and speed, while sevens connoisseurs' appreciated the defensive/ball-winning qualities of David Fenlon (the Ireland U19 A flanker), Dan Falvey, and Harry Rowlands, particularly. The squad won through to the finals to face a very good Queens Seven, both sides having gone through the competition unbeaten.
The Exiles DHL Seven accelerated out of the blocks from the start of the final combining power, organisation and pace. Queens kept at it but were never able to compete with a squad who saved their best for the final, being described by the local support as a class act'. The Exiles won the final 43-12 and Ireland U18 Clubs full-back Matthew Betty won the Player of the Tournament' award.
The Senior Exiles DHL squad flew in on Sunday morning after playing in National One games on the Saturday. Their competition started with a comfortable win in the first game against Dungannon. They progressed through the group stages until they encountered the defending champions Malone in the semi-final. This young, aggressive, and quick Malone side put the Exiles under pressure taking a 14-0 lead. The game remained very close until the second half when the Exiles went up through the gears. The Exiles ran in six trys to win the semi.
Malone were very generous in defeat saying you were just too good for us'.
The DHL Exiles then faced a much-fancied Belfast Harlequins Seven led by former Ireland international Andy Ward. This was a testing game for the Exiles as they were reduced to six men for three minutes, through a sin-binning, when ahead 14-0. Quins immediately got a score reducing the defeat to 7 points. This was a crucial period for the Exiles who played keep ball' and defended well.
Mark Bruce (Ireland Sevens international), and Robbie Shaw (ex-Ireland U21s), pulled off a number of try-saving tackles and still had enough energy to start counter-attacks. The vast Sevens experience of John Skurr (ex-Ireland U21s), Jon Feeley, and Matt Cannon came to the fore and the Exiles, back up to seven men, turned on the pace and skill. Jon Feeley, who had excelled throughout the tournament, almost scoring at will, orchestrated and the Exiles ran in another six trys to win the game 48-14.
Apart from the afore-mentioned Andy Crawford, also supporting the Exiles on Sunday were IRFU Committee member John Callaghan and IRFU Exiles Branch President Dr. John O'Driscoll (the former British & Irish Lion).
Ces Shaw: Team Manager
U20 Exiles DHL Sevens squad: Dan Falvey, David Fenlon, Harry Rowlands, Blaine McKie, Sean Flannery, Tom Burns, Matthew Betty, Tom Cleary, Ciaran Kelly, Matthew McLaughlin, and Daniel Wagner.
Senior Exiles DHL Sevens squad: Matt Cannon, John Swords, Jon Feeley, Liam Lonergan, Jon Skurr, Matt Williams, Dan Falvey, Ejike Uzoigwe, Mark Bruce, Robbie Shaw, and Nick McClelland.
Coaches: Peter Halsall & Kevan Bell
For the full results from the Carrick 7s click on