Sevens better than ever
BYRON Bay Rugby Union Club's Tim Ahern was amazed by the top-tier skills on display in the 25th annual Byron Bay Sevens at the weekend.
The club president and event organiser had said last week that he believed the tournament this year would be the best yet.
He was happy yesterday to report that prediction was on the money.
"It's just going great. The quality of the footy here has been amazing," he said.
"It's attracted a pretty good crowd. We have heaps of the locals down here from Byron Bay.
"The Sevens teams just really go for it. It's unbelievable and it's very fast."
Ahern said there had been some "massive hits" over the weekend, which were celebrated by a fired-up crowd.
"They loved it," he said.
"It's been pretty rough out there in some games.
"Sort of makes me glad I'm not out there."
Ahern said he'd noticed strong improvements in player fitness, conditioning and skills since he played in the tournament 20 years ago.
"It's made for a very entertaining weekend," he said.
"The Sevens are fantastic for Far North Coast rugby and rugby in general in Australia."
He said the Brazilian side, which were untested underdogs coming in, had played solid rugby and were still in the tournament on the final afternoon.
The Byron Bay women's team, the first to compete in years, was also still going strongly.
The Samoan women's squad, expected to be ones to watch, made the semi-finals but had not played as well as some had forecast.
"They looked OK, but some girls are a bit young," Ahern said.
However, he gave the women considerable kudos for attending the Sevens, especially considering some team members speak only fractured English.
Full results from the Byron Bay Sevens will appear in The Northern Star tomorrow.
Ahern thanked Coopers, Ballina Byron Gateway Airport and sponsor of 25 years, The Rails.