18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Now the largest annual festival of rugby in Ulster, 500 men and women from across the British Isles will be competing for a total prize fund of £5,500, along with team sportswear.
The tournament will commence on the evening of Friday the 4th May with the Kukri Sportswear Under 20s when 12 sides will be competing for the Everest Trophy, including representatives from Leamington Spa in England who after last year will be returning with two sides. In addition Telford College from Edinburgh will be making their first visit to Northern Ireland.
The Guinness Open will take place on Saturday the 5th in its traditional format of 20 sides from across the UK, including last year's champions, local side Academy who will be looking to hold on to the Holmes trophy. They will face stiff competition from several Scottish sides including Heriot Watt University who are made up of students from Ulster. Alongside them will be Hawick Linden, Wigtownshire and Forresters.
The competition concludes on Sunday the 6th with the Lombard Ladies 10s Tournament which will include 3 teams from England and Ponpyclun Falcons from Wales and the blue ribbon Manvik Premier Sevens where the top teams will compete for a £3,000 prize, with last years champions the Irish Exiles intent on retaining the Simms Salver. However top AIB League sides Belfast Harlequins, Ballymena and Dungannon are keen to make an impact. With 20 of the 50 teams competing from the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland very few spaces are left but team entries are still being accepted by contacting Michael Simms on 07849 718064 or go to www.carricksevens.co.uk
Alongside the rugby, the Guinness Carrick Sevens has become a major social festival off the pitch and for 2007 there have been significant steps to develop the facilities for the non-playing contingent. Alongside the Guinness marquee erected for the evening entertainment, there will be a demonstration from the Wild Geese Parachute Display Team, the Kukri Allstarzz dancers and a children's zone alongside an outdoor activities area to ensure the whole family is entertained. Car parking has also been increased.
An important addition to this years proceeding will be the inclusion of the Wooden Spoon Society as the nominated charity for the event. Although Wooden Spoon is indelibly linked to rugby, its fundraising efforts are aimed at assisting projects such as providing playgrounds for children with severe and moderate learning difficulties across Ulster. So with this in mind the committee of the Guinness Carrick Sevens are proud to have Honorary President of the Society, Willie John McBride to help them launch the event.
Terry Loughins of Diageo said, "Guinness has a long association with Irish rugby both internationally and in the domestic game. Part of that domestic association has been for the last 7 years with the Guinness Carrick Sevens, which has been going from strength to strength. Therefore we are looking forward to another successful sevens with fast flowing rugby and slow flowing pints."
Chairman of the Northern Ireland Events Company Mervyn Elder said 'The Northern Ireland Events Company is delighted to be supporting the Guinness Carrick Sevens 2007. The tournament continues to go from strength to strength and with the addition of a high quality female competition the organising committee have demonstrated a real willingness to make the Guinness Carrick Sevens Ireland's leading rugby sevens event. To have a competition of this size and quality in Northern Ireland is a genuine privilege.'
Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman David Hilditch said, "As Mayor of Carrickfergus Borough, it gives me pleasure to welcome the return of the Guinness Carrick Sevens to the Borough. Carrickfergus Council is delighted to be a major sponsor of this popular tournament, attracting visitors to the Borough from across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. It has the very real potential to put Carrickfergus on the map as the new capital of sevens rugby in Ireland."
Managing Director of Manvik, John Connors said, " I am very proud that once again Manvik is associated with the tournament and in particular the high standard of teams that are now being attracted to compete in the Manvik Premier Sevens."
Paul Smyth of Lombard said, " We are pleased to be involved in such a highly regarded event within the local community and in particular to be associated in the first year of the Ladies tournament."
The Guinness Carrick Sevens 2006 is supported by:
The Northern Ireland Events Company,
Carrickfergus Borough Council.
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