Carrick success keeps sevens on up
The Guinness Carrick Sevens once again proved to be a real highlight of the local rugby calendar as teams from all over Ulster, England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland came together for the three day festival.
The 42nd year of the event saw over 600 players of all ages and abilities descend on the County Antrim club with five separate tournaments taking place over the three days while a kidzone, craft fair and evening entertainment also brought in the crowds.
As always, the highlight of the weekend was the Quigg Golden Open tournament held on Saturday, but there would be no repeat of last year's win for the NGN 7s.
Placed in Group D, the team set up in memory of former Ulster player Nevin Spence, as well as his father Noel and brother Graham, topped their pool to make the semi-finals, but were defeated by Newcastle Exiles in the last four.
The men from the north-east were defeated by the Ulster Exiles in a hotly contested final.
Despite that reverse, Epi Rapu was still named Player of the Tournament for the runners-up.
The Blue Flag Heroes team from Queen's University beat The Bromigos in the Quigg Golden Open Plate final while Edinburgh College were victorious over Wigtonshire in the Quigg Golden Open Bowl.
The under-19 tournament on Friday night also provided an entertaining evening of rugby as President's Select came out on top, with Gary O'Shea being named the Player of the Tournament.
Local success came in the subsidiary sections as Queen's University lifted the Samurai Sportswear Plate and Belfast Met took home the Samurai Sportswear Bowl.
The concluding day of the tournament saw three competitions take place with the Manvik Qualifying Clubs Sevens, featuring sides from the junior rugby Qualifying leagues in Ulster, the Abbey Insurance Ladies Sevens and new for this year's edition, the Ladies Development competition.
CIYMS won their third consecutive title in the Manvik Qualifying Club tournament after they defeated Bangor in the final.
The Kukri Qualifying One rivals played out an entertaining final that finished 40-22 in favour of the east-Belfast side.
The Abbey Insurance Ladies competition also saw a familiar winner as Queen's University completed their own hat-trick of titles with a win over Cooke in the final, while Belfast Harlequins took home the Plate after defeating the host side.
This year saw the continuation of the strong charity work carried out by the competition's organisers, with Willie-John McBride's Wooden Spoon once again set to benefit, while other teams also pledged their winnings to charitable causes.