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Irish Legend Launches 2008 Guinness Carrick Sevens

Irish Legend Launches 2008 Guinness Carrick Sevens

Former Ulster coach Alan Solomons and Ireland rugby legend Willie John McBride today launched the 2008 Guinness Carrick Sevens. Ulster’s premier Sevens rugby tournament returns in May, for the 36th time.

Alan Solomons said: “I’m a huge fan of Sevens rugby, the action is fast and furious and with all the activities planned for the Guinness Carrick Sevens the fans are guaranteed a fun weekend. The Guinness Carrick Sevens is now firmly established on the domestic Sevens circuit and the quality of the teams participating in this years tournament is outstanding.”

Now the largest annual festival of rugby in Ulster, 700 men and women from across the British Isles will be competing for a total prize fund of £6,000, along with team sportswear. 

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The tournament will commence on the evening of Friday, May 2 with the Kukri Sportswear Under-20s when 12 sides will be competing for the Everest Trophy, including representatives from Leamington Spa in England and Telford College from Edinburgh. Although Bridgend College from Wales, who are making their first visit to Northern Ireland, may be side to take the title from last year’s winners Malone.  

The Guinness Open will take place on Saturday, May 3 with an incredible 30 sides already entered, including last year’s champions, local team Kidney Bean, who will be looking to hold on to the Holmes Trophy.

They will face stiff competition from several Scottish sides including Dirty Sanchez and Portobello from Edinburgh. The English challenge is led by Old Filtonians from Bristol and two sides from Novocastrians who are based in Newcastle and led by Ennniskillen man Maurice Finlay.

In addition there is a strong entry from Ulster, with welcome returns from Donaghadee, Lisburn, Cooke and Ballyclare, along with new sides the Graduates and Ulster Titans.

The competition concludes on Sunday, May 4 with the Lombard Ladies 10s tournament, which features six teams from England along with Pontyclun Falcons and Merched Dollgalleu from Wales but they will all be chasing last year’s winners Cooke. 

The blue ribbon event – the Manvik Premier – has attracted some of the best sevens teams in Britain, with last year’s champions the DHL Irish Exiles intent on retaining the Simms Salver.

However, top AIB League sides Malone, Queen’s University and Dungannon are keen as always to make an impact. But the smart money may be on the Merchonians from Edinburgh, Mels Exiles from Wales, the Kukri Badgers from London or the Samurai International Sevens team who are flying in from Spain. 

Alongside the rugby, the Guinness Carrick Sevens has become a major social festival off the pitch and for 2008 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 demonstrations 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, with several hundred extra places adjacent to the main clubhouse.

An important addition to last year’s proceedings was the Wooden Spoon Society being nominated as the charity for the event with being raising £1200 over the weekend. 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 Northern Ireland.

So with this in mind, the committee of the Guinness Carrick Sevens were proud to have Honorary President of the Society, Willie John McBride, to help them launch the event.

With 33 of the 66 teams travelling from across the British Isles and Europe and all places now filled two months prior to the event, 2008 is certainly shaping up to establish the Guinness Carrick Sevens as one of the largest annual festivals of sport in Northern Ireland.

For more information or updates please go to http://www.carricksevens.co.uk/

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 eight 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.”

Deputy Mayor of Carrickfergus, Councillor Patricia McKinney said: “As Deputy 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.

“It attracts 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 added: “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.”