UPWARDS of 10,000 rugby fans are expected to flock to Thomond Park this weekend for the Limerick World Club 7s event.
Twelve teams from around the globe – including a Munster selection and some of the “biggest names in club and provincial rugby” – will face off in the two-day event, which it is hoped will run in the stadium for the next five years.
It will feature 34 matches over Saturday and Sunday at the inaugural event – the first such club 7s tournament to take place in Ireland.
Modelled on International Rugby Sevens events, Limerick has been chosen as the host venue city for the club event and plenty of colour is expected. Sevens events are known for their flair and costumes, and the theme in Thomond this weekend is ‘superheroes’.
A five year deal is in place to host the tournament in Limerick, so organisers are hoping that the first year gets off to a good start. A crowd of around 10,000 over the two days would meet expectations, it us understood.
Meanwhile, the efforts of Limerick’s own GAA heroes won’t be missed, as organisers plan to erect a big screen to show the All-Ireland hurling semi-final between Limerick and Kilkenny on Sunday in the new fanzone in front of Thomond Park.
“We are very grateful to the GAA for allowing us show the game,” said Tim Magee, one of the key organisers of the event.
“Our tournament is packed with the some of biggest club names in rugby so there will be non-stop action on the pitch over the two days, but we’re delighted to be able to bring all the action from Croke Park to the fans too.
“Thomond Park makes a brilliant setting for anyone into sport, it’s the best of 7s rugby and the best of hurling in a wonderful family-friendly setting.
“We wish TJ Ryan and the ‘Superheroes’ of Limerick the very best on Sunday too - we will all be supporting the lads.”
Five of the participating teams - Fiji Daveta, San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby, Stade Français, Western Province and Munster - are staying in the Clarion Hotel and manager Ivan Tuohy said there was “great excitement”.
“There is a super buzz, all very nice polite guys,” he said. “They are really enjoying Limerick, they have been out training and running around the city and are really enjoying the experience so far.”
Eleven pubs in the city have partnered up to act as an ‘embassy’ for each of the international teams over the weekend, while a fireworks display will take place on Saturday night. The Milk Market will play host to the official after-party on Saturday, with live music and a BBQ from 7pm.
For more see www.worldclub7series.com.