GORDON Junior Rugby Club won every division final entered; Wollongbar Alstonville were awarded the coveted Team of the Carnival, but it was the successful debut of girls Sevens rugby that set apart the 16th TAS Rugby Carnival, The Armidale School Principal Dr Rachel Horton said.
The carnival, held in glorious sunshine on April 9 and 10 following days and weeks of rain, attracted 43 school and club teams from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney and Moree to the coast, 13 of which competed in girls 14s and 16 years divisions, in addition to the traditional boys 12 year old 15-a-side competition.
"As a school we are in our seventh year of co-education and it was important that this year's Carnival reflect the growth in girls' and women's sport over the last few years," Horton said at Sunday's presentation.
"As someone who started refereeing women's Sevens rugby at national level about a decade ago, I've been incredibly impressed with the skill level, athleticism and the quality of the games played by school and junior club sides this weekend which I would put on par with what I saw at a national level, 10 years ago."
"We also have girls playing in the under 12s teams as well, and the girls' Sevens competition has only enhanced what is a fantastic carnival.
"More broadly, there's been some fantastic rugby on display this weekend; the respect and the spirit of rugby has been ever-present, but perhaps most importantly has been the joy I've seen on the faces of everyone playing."
Over the weekend teams played a minimum of four games and a final on Sunday. In the top division of the under 12s competition, Gordon JRU 1st XV defeated The Scots College Prep 19-0; in Division 2 Toowoomba Bears took the points over Maroochydore Swans 33-7, while in Division 3, it was Gordon's 2nd XV over Nudgee College, 34-0.
The 14s Girls Sevens final went to Gordon over Toowoomba Bears 19-5, with Gordon also taking the 16s Girls Sevens over Sunshine Coast Grammar, on overall points.
In keeping with the spirit of the game, the coveted Canterbury Team of the Carnival trophy is not based on points but on sportsmanship and contribution on and off the field, with Wollongbar Alstonville being the popular recipients.
The Carnival is also an important tournament for developing junior referees, with TAS Year 12 student Bridget Burnett being awarded Referee of the Carnival from among the 23 young whistle blowers who were individually assessed and mentored over the 125 games.
Carnival convenor Huon Barrett said the event would not be possible without a huge volunteer commitment from the TAS P&F and staff from across the school community.
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