A three-day IRFU Festival Sevens Rugby aimed at schools and third level colleges proved hugely popular with all the participants, and plans are already in place to make it an annual event.
Hosted in Terenure College RFC, the three-day IRFU National Sevens Festival attracted 48 teams from schools and third level institutions and showcased how enjoyable the Sevens game is to both play and watch.
Day one was the Men’s and Women’s Third Level Sevens with twelve teams taking part across the two strands. Athlone IT (pictured below) picked up the Men’s title with Belfast Met winning the Plate and IT Tralee the Bowl. In the Women’s competition, DCU, coached by Ireland’s Sophie Spence, won the Cup, while IT Tralee added to their haul by winning the Plate.
Day two was aimed at Under-19 Schools with thirteen teams taking part. The King’s Hospital won the Cup in the Boys’ tournament, with Dalriada picking up the Plate and Ballyclare High School taking home the Bowl.
In the Girls’ tournament, Sacred Heart Tullamore won the Cup with Sacred Heart Westport picking up the Plate. Both schools picked up more silverware on day 3 at the Under-15 Girls X7s – a modified form of the game played across half a pitch.
Westport won the overall title with Ard Scoil Mhuire from Limerick crowned Plate champions and Tullamore were the Bowl winners. There were even bonfires and a welcoming committee for the girls from Sacred Heart Westport who captured silverware on days two and three of the festival
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The Women’s Rugby World Cup trophy also paid a visit during the three-day tournament and proved a very popular addition to the festival atmosphere.
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Ireland Women’s Sevens international Elaine Ryan, coach of the Mount Temple team at the U-19 Festival, said: “There’s great enthusiasm from the girls from 1st to 6th year – there are plenty of girls who want to play. It’s good for them to learn new skills and they really enjoyed the Sevens atmosphere with the music and everything playing.”
Mark Connolly, IRFU Rugby Growth and Participation Manager, commented: “This was the first year of this type of Sevens festival and the aim is to build it into an annual event. We have seen a lot of growth of the Sevens game – particularly in girls schools and non-traditional rugby schools.
“It is also an enjoyable introduction to the sport and we hope it will provide a pathway for even more teenagers to play rugby – in all its forms – and possibly unearth some future Ireland stars. We’d like to thank all the teams that travelled over the three days and we hope to see them all back next year.”