Tomas O’Brien, tournament director for the Heineken Kinsale Sevens said that, each year, the organisers run a collection for a designated charity and have raised between €3,000 and €7,000 a time for a worthy cause.
However, he said it was hoped to top those figures considerably for the local fund which was set up to aid the families struck by the tragic sinking of the Honeydew II last January. Skipper Ger Bohan and crew man Tomasz Jagla perished while two others were rescued.
The rugby tournament, in its 19th year, will take place in Kinsale from May 5-7 and involves a record 100 teams competing.
“The number of entries, to date, confirms our position as the premier rugby sevens event in the Northern hemisphere,” Mr O’Brien said.
He added that more than 200 games would take place over that weekend in veteran, senior men, senior women and junior men categories, with a total prize-fund of €22,000 on offer.
An estimated 12,000 visitors will swell the town’s 3,500 population. All available accommodation will be taken up in Kinsale and many of the visitors will also stay in Cork city, Clonakilty and Bandon. The organisers say the tournament is worth an estimated €6 million to the local economy.
Pat Maher of sponsors Heineken Ireland, said the sevens format was gaining in stature and recognition in all rugby playing nations for its development of the skills required in the modern game.
“The success of this event is driven by the people in the club, who do this voluntarily, and we in Heineken Ireland enjoy being involved with their success,” Mr Maher said.
Philip Stokes, team entries director, said that the junior and women’s sections had been so popular, waiting lists were now being operated.
“There’s a strong level of interest again from Irish and overseas sides, including the Marauders from Britain, Suzie Exiles from Amsterdam and the Kooga Wailers from Fiji who are returning to defend their title. This team is an international invitation side, sourcing players from English and Welsh premiership sides as well as from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa Super 14 and NPC sides,” Mr Stokes said.
Munster full back and former All Black, Christian Cullen and his provincial teammate, Tomas O’Leary, have both confirmed they will play in the tournament.
The organisers expect that a number of other Munster stars will turn up on the weekend and are also confident that several big-name internationals from overseas will make the trip.
Passes for the tournament for the full weekend cost €25 or can be purchased daily for €12. Children under 12 will be admitted free of charge.