Magnificent sevens ready for big kick-off at Carrick
The 38th Guinness Carrick Sevens tournament kicks off tonight.
Some 64 teams are taking part with 30 of those travelling across the Irish Sea in search of total prize money worth £7,600 plus team sportswear.
First up is the Kukri Sportswear Under-19s’ showdown in which 12 sides will be competing for the Everest Trophy.
They include holders, England’s Surrey Colts and regular visitors Telford College from Edinburgh.
The hosts, Grosvenor, BHSFP, Wreckin’ Ball and the Wild Cats — drawn from Carrick GS and BRA respectively — fly the local flag.
Some 32 sides will play in tomorrow’s Guinness Open with the Wooden Spoon aiming to retain the Holmes Trophy.
They will face stiff competition from several Scottish sides including QM Titans, with the English challenge being led by a trio from the North East — Novocastrians, Newcastle Pirates and Morpeth, who were finalists last year.
The strong Ulster representation will feature Grosvenor, BHFSP, PSNI, Abbey Ulster Exiles and a number of Donegal sides.
Carrick, 2009 semi-finalists, are intent on going one better; they are fielding three teams.
Sunday will see the Abbey Insurance Ladies 10s tournament, featuring four teams from England. They include Wooden Spoon Lioness, making their first visit.
Mel Femels from Wales are coming, too.
Defending champions, Cooke, and City of Derry also are on duty.
The blue ribbon event, the Manvik Premier, has attracted some of the best Sevens teams in Britain.
They include the holders, Kooga Wailers, Mel’s Exiles, a strong Wooden Spoon side drawn from clubs across Britain and an Ulster President’s team.
With Sevens featuring in the 2016 Olympics and back on the Irish agenda, players from Malone, Instonians and Queen’s will be keen to impress.
Off the pitch there are four all-day bars. And alongside the Guinness marquee, erected for evening entertainment, a children's zone will operate.
Car parking has also been increased, with several hundred additional places.
Last year £1,000 was raised for the Wooden Spoon Society, whose work includes providing playgrounds for Northern Ireland children with learning difficulties.