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Debutants on track at Railway Girls '7s'

The Railway Girls Schools 7s tournament took place on Friday, where it was a day for debutants.

This was demonstrated as all four competitions were taken by teams making their debut in the event, with two of those beating the reigning title holders in their finals.

"Over 300 girls across 17 teams played today and it was by some distance the highest standard we've witnessed to date," said Mere Baker, the former New Zealand 7s international, who devised the programme.

Baker, a world cup winner and winner of the Hong Kong 7s six times in a row with New Zealand, said many of the girls on show have the potential to play for their country.

"As well as being a fantastic sport for girls, many of them can aim to play for Ireland U18s and U19s this September. With the right application and coaching, there is definite Olympic potential there, even as close as 2016.

"The star of the tournament in the recent IRB Series in Sao Paolo, New Zealand's Gayle Broughton, is 17 years of age and the New Zealand Going For Gold programme is peppered with teenagers. There is no reason we can't replicate this in Ireland," said Baker.

Two new competitions took place this time, with St Andrews taking the first years' competition and Loreto On The Green taking the Junior Competition, defeating St Louis in the final.

Indeed, Loreto proved to be somewhat of a bete noire for St Louis, as they also defeated the reigning champions in the Senior final.

The most exciting final of the day was newcomers St Raphaela's against Newpark Comprehensive in the TY final. It was an entertaining clash with a lot of skill on show. St Raphaela's defeated the reigning champions to cue a pitch invasion and celebrations from the large St Raphaela's crowd.

Player of the Tournament was the outstanding Niamh Lakes, who was instrumental in St Raphaela's victory.

The next tournament takes place on Friday May 2, where up to 30 teams and 500 girls are expected to take part. For further details on Railway's Girls Schools 7s, email girlsrugby@railwayunionrfc.com.