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Magnificent return for the Carrick Rugby Sevens after Covid restrictions gap

The 50th anniversary Guinness Carrick Sevens took place over the weekend and although the unfavourable weather conditions on Saturday undoubtedly affected overall attendance, it was great to see the event back after a three year gap because of Covid restrictions.

It was an occasion to welcome back regular supporters from outside Northern Ireland including Hawick Linden, Newcastle Novos Ladies team and Forrester. It was also a delight to welcome back Fijian friends of the tournament from Co Down who entered two teams this year. As well as the rugby, all of the usual attractions were in place.

On a more serious note, one of the Forrester members had his head shaved to raise money for the Dodie Weir Foundation. Before the competition started on Friday, there was a presentation of a cap to Richard Price to mark his 50 years with the Sevens Committee

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The tournament started on Friday evening with the Sewing Solutions Under 18s competition for the Everest Cup which was won by a very well organised Belfast Met Wolfpack side who overcame the almost equally impressive Stones (Royal Belfast Academical Institution) in the final, out-scoring them by six tries to four. On their way to the final, Stones ran in six tries, and conceded just two, in beating Portadown in one semi-final while Met came back from two tries down to beat Dungannon in the other semi-final. The Player of the Tournament award went to Stones player James Hillman.

The Mayor, Cllr William McCaughey and Michael Simms, president of Carrick RFC, presenting Tia Maguire from Cooke with the Player of the Tournament award in the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council sponsored competition.

The Plate competition was won by Ballyclare who edged out Carrick RFC because they converted all three of their tries while Carrick, who also scored three tries, could convert only one. The Bowl final was won by City of Armagh who beat Academy to take the trophy. At the end of the competition the trophies were presented by John Stewart of Sewing Solutions.

The Quigg Golden Open competition was played in wet and cold conditions but nonetheless produced some excellent rugby. The cup semi-finals were contested by Fijian sides 2R and NI Kaviti in one match and and Dungannon and BR Barbarians, playing in memory of Ben Robinson, in the other. NI Kaviti rather easily overcame 2R in their semi-final while Dungannon beat BR Barbarians by three tries to none. The final was keenly contested but Dungannon came out on top by three tries to one. They also provided the Player of the Tournament in Matthew Montgomery.

The Quigg Golden Plate final was won by Hybrid Academy who beat Carrick team Breezers in a drop-goal shoot-out after the sides had finished level at the end of normal time in the final. The Willis Bowl went to visitors Hawick Linden who beat Belfast High School FP in the final. At the end of the competition, the trophies were presented by Eddie Quigg of Quigg Golden and Scott Holmes, grandson of the late Alan Holmes, who presented the Holmes Salver to the Dungannon captain.

The weather was much kinder for the Mid & East Antrim Ladies competition on Sunday and the larger crowd of spectators were treated to some entertaining contests. Cooke (playing as Cookie Monster) topped their group, winning all three games and Banbridge did the same in their group. All of the other teams in that group - Belfast Harlequins, Maul By Myself (Ballynahinch) and Toon (Newcastle Novos)- finished with one win each so places had to be decided using points differences. The strong Cookie Monster side won the Cup final convincingly, scoring six unanswered tries after going behind to Banbridge early on. The Player of the Tournament was Teah Maguire of Cookie Monster. The Plate was won by a strong Queen’s side who beat Maul By Myself (Ballynahinch) in the final while the Bowl was won by Belfast Harlequins who defeated Carrick in their final. Newcastle visitors Toon won the Wooden Spoon contest.

Cooke were winners of the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council's Sevens tournament.

The Mayor, Councillor William McCaughey, presented the Linda Waring Trophy to the Cookie Monster captain and the Plate, Bowl and Wooden Spoon prize to the respective winning captains.

At the conclusion of the event, club president Michael Simms - himself heavily involved in Sevens organisation in the last two decades along with his father, the late and much-missed Jim Simms - paid tribute to the work done by Harry Ritchie and his Sevens Committee and the many volunteers involved in putting the event together.

He also thanked the sponsors, Guinness, Sewing Solutions, Quigg Golden and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council.

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11 photographs celebrating the appeal of the Carrick Sevens festival of rugby
Novocastrians were winners of the Wooden Spoon.
Belfast Harlequins winners of the Bowl in the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council sponsored tournament.
Queen's were winners of the Plate at Carrick Sevens.
Dungannon were winners of the Quigg Golden Men’s Open and the Holmes Salver
Belfast Met won the Sewing Solutions Everest Cup U18s .
The Mayor, Councillor William McCaughey and Jim Simms, president of Carrick RFC, with officials for the Sevens tournament.
Dungannon players celebrating success at the Carrick Sevens.