International flavour for Byron Sevens tournament
By Adam Hicks
BYRON Bay Rugby Club is adding a truly international flavour to their annual Sevens tournament this weekend, by fielding a team with players from six different nations. They have Chillie from Chile, Frenchie, from France and Wombat from Australia. "They'd be appalled if we called them anything else," said president Matt Alexander. Known by their mothers as David Stevens, of Chile, Louis Forquet, of France and Mick Leece of Byron Bay, the rugby players will line up with Brian Minkin of USA, Mark Ainsworth of Wales and Arie Van Der Pool and Dre Smith of New Zealand. Alexander said the sevens team reflected the club's culture of accepting players from all backgrounds. "It doesn't matter where you come from or who you are, just turn up, sign the form, get insured and join the club," he said. The hosts are among 48 teams descending on Byron Bay for Australia's largest amateur rugby sevens tournament. Alexander said more than 1000 players would kit-up for matches starting from 8am today at Byron Bay recreation grounds. The Brisbane Fiji teams and the Hunters Hill Fugitives side are among the favourites to take out the $5000 prize in the mens' competition. Unfortunately for the home side, Byron Bay will play both sides in group rounds of the competition. "We're going to have a tough start on the first day," Alexander said. "If we fall over on the first day we'll be up against the Gold Rats. "The Southern Cross University Gold Rats are notorious for losing all their group matches before winning the D grade final. "The Gold Rats throw everything on the first day and come out charging in tropical shirts on the Sunday." The finals start around 1pm on Sunday. Big turn-out This year's field of 16 women's teams and 32 men's teams will be the largest in the tournament's history, with teams from Fiji, New Zealand, Sydney, Brisbane and country locations. Alexander said the tournament would be a showcase of some of the best and at times, most irreverent sevens Rugby. "The true flavour of the tournament is the mix of sides, from the top Fijian and Australian development sides, through first grade city clubs, to local teams and the sides enjoying their hard earned end of year trip," Alexander said.