AT RIGHT: Former Australian sevens player Alex Gibbon has played at past Byron Bay Rugby Sevens tournaments.
AT RIGHT: Former Australian sevens player Alex Gibbon has played at past Byron Bay Rugby Sevens tournaments. Loryn Ettridge

1500 rugby players head to North Coast for footy 'festival'

AN EXTRA day of competition has been added for the 28th annual Byron Bay Rugby Sevens tournament this weekend.

The carnival has often featured Sydney Shute Shield, Queensland Premier Division and Australian sevens players in recent years.

There will be teams from Fiji, New Zealand and the United States there while some of the top sevens team from across Australia have also entered.

It starts early this year with a school-based competition Friday before the rest of the activity on the weekend.

"We've looked at what we've done before and wanted to step it up this year," events coordinator Cale Watts said.

"We really want to get the festival vibe happening, and I know we'll achieve that."

This year's event also sees a Food Truck Market, Coopers Fan Zone Bar, local legend DJs from Coco Republic and live bands.

"It's a great way to get the whole Byron Bay community involved," club captain Andy Brown said.

"Not only is it a free community event, but it's open to everyone. There'll be entertainment, great food selection, and stuff for the kids to do.

"It's great to build the sport and see the younger generation coming through."

Most of the local players will run around in the social competition for Bangalow, Byron Bay and Lismore.

About 1500 people turned out last year, with New Zealand team Melville winning the top division.

Fiji Tabadamu, Sunnybank and Canberra-based team Ozboks are usually there when finals start on Sunday.

The tournament follows on from the popular Noosa Sevens, with many teams using it as a warm-up between tournaments.

Women's competition has become a regular addition in recent years with some of the top teams coming from the Hunter Valley, Sydney University and Sunnybank.

The junior 7s kicks off on Friday at 10am with schools from across the region competing.



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