The Kinsale 7s, where a range of world class international women's rugby players have played in recent years, are taking applications for this year's event which takes place over the first weekend in May in southwest Cork, Ireland.
The womens competition has featured a host of international faces in recent years and the current women's champions, the Wooden Spoons, have claimed the Kinsale crown for the last three years. The Spoons are a well-known invitational charity organisation boasting an illustrious catalogue of international stars, and their Kinsale womens squad has featured top English and Welsh international players such as Sue Day, Non Evans and Kat Merchant who accepted the perpetual trophy as captain in Kinsale last May.
Their main rivals in recent years have been the Irish Vixens, again an international invitational side, featuring Irish internationals such as Shannon Houston, Debbie Clarke, Lynne Cantwell and Grace Davitt. Other Irish internationals also appear playing with their home clubs - Louise Beamish (UL Bohs), Orla Brennan (Blackrock), Carol Staunton (St. Mary's), Helen Brosnan and Helen Jones (Highfield), or with other invitational or club sides.
Kinsale has also proved a draw for teams from countries further afield also, with women's teams from France, Sweden and the US appearing in recent years. English club teams have been traditionally well represented also, the Royal Vets and the Pink Baa-Baas are frequent visitors and sides such as Richmond and Saracens have also taken honours at the tournament in the past.
With the current focus on sevens rugby arising from its inclusion in the 2016 Olympics, it is expected the demand for places and standard of competition at tournaments such as Kinsale will rise dramatically but it is unlikely that the fun element will ever be left behind. Kinsale never loses sight of this with its famous marquee now flanked by attractions such as the Kukri clothing store, a gourmet food court and various strategically-located beer tents to ensure all needs are catered for while not missing a minute of the action on the pitches. And if there are concerns about missing out on other rugby events that may be taking place elsewhere, fear notthe marquee was THE place to be last May for the all-Irish HEC semi-final as well as the dramatic penalty shoot-out in the other HEC semi-final between Cardiff and Leicester.
The women's section of the Kinsale 7s tournament is extremely competitive and well supported by the tournament organisers with a mixed level competition on Saturday leading to seeded Cup and Plate competitions on Sunday.
This ensures that plenty of action is provided for both the serious prize-seekers as well as for those teams that just want a bit of fun. The growth in the women's competitions has been recognised further with an increase in the total women's prize money to 3,500 overall for 2010.
Full information and details are available at www.kinsalesevens.com.
*With thanks to Deirdre Lynch