THERE was a festive atmosphere at Thomond Park over the weekend as the first World Club Rugby Sevens tournament came to Limerick.
Twelve teams battled it out to win the inaugural title over two days in Thomond Park, before an estimated crowd of around 10,000 fans on Saturday, and between four and five thousand on Sunday.
And the last team left standing come Sunday evening were the Fijian Daveta side, who beat the Vancouver Bears in the deciding game.
Alongside Munster, teams came to Limerick from Auckland, New York, London, Canada, France and Moscow for the festival of rugby. And despite torrential rain on Saturday, there was a tremendous atmosphere.
Unlike conventional rugby, ‘sevens’ sees teams play seven minute each way, with seven players on each side. It led to some remarkably open games.
Castletroy man Liam Butler came to the event with his son Adam.
“We have not seen anything like this before. Every game has been entertaining, and it has been enjoyable,” he said.
Adam was impressed at seeing the fastest sevens player in the world, Carlin Isles, appear for New York.
And as they beat London’s Saracens, cries of the Frank Sinatra’s classic ‘New York’ rang out from the stands.
For youngster Jake Moloney, whose mother is Russian, there was great excitement at watching the Moscow Saracens play - despite the fact they lost to Munster.
Owen Cleary of Janemount Park added: “It is very well run, and it is great fun. There is a bit more action, it is a bit quicker, and it is more open. My highlight has been Munster’s last performance, where they beat Moscow Saracens fairly convincingly.”
Rain stopped play for an hour on Saturday, but the crowd remained in good spirits, with one man - dressed in drag - earning a standing ovation when he ran onto the pitch and fell at the try-line.
But the biggest cheer was reserved for Munster, who beat the eventual champions Daveta 17-5.