By Volunteer Rebecca McConnell
The sun was shining in South Belfast today as rugby 7s action continued at Queens University's DUB playing fields. Twenty nine matches were being played on two different pitches covering four leagues: men's division 1, men's division 2A and 2B and the women's league. Rugby 7s is played 7 minutes a side with 7 players on each team.
Playing in the men's division 1 were An Garda Siochana, British Police, British Prison, Paris Fire Brigade, New Zealand Fire, Italian State Fire, Italian State and the local boys, PSNI.
Once again, the Haka was performed by the New Zealand team each time they went out to play. It was quite an intimidating performance and that was even before any ball was kicked!
Dame Mary Peters popped by to watch some of the action as well as Kit Kong mascot of the official merchandise sponsor Kukri. There were a lot of people watching with their kids and dogs and everyone enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and exciting action.
Some OAPs were trying to bribe some WPFG volunteers to go and bring them some coffees during the mornings play, even offering to buy them a brew, but there were no takers!
There was a chorus of Italian 'Happy Birthday' sang to one of their players post match. Tamburri Gabriel shares the same birthday as tennis ace Roger Federer, they both turned 32 today!
PSNI played three matches in total. They won against British Prison (17 points to nil) but lost matches to British Police and the Italian State . A member of the team said, "Competition was stiff today, some great teams out there. PSNI acquitted ourselves well and we will come back stronger for the next Games in Fairfax."
Some of the organisers of the next WPFG in 2015 were also in attendance at The DUB today to see help them in their preparations. Keith Houston, a firefighter in Fairfax has been attending meetings and checking out various sports with his fellow committee members.
"We're having a great time in Belfast. We've been doing a lot of work, sharing experiences and seeing what works well. We're having dinner in City Hall tonight so I am looking forward to that, it's been hard going over the past few days!"
I spoke with members of the NYPD rugby team as they were warming up to play the Antwerp team in the Division 2A. They were playing yesterday and beat the NYFD but suffered loses to other teams. "The most important thing is we beat the fire department! That's all that matters. We're having a fantastic time at the Games, the traffic is much better here than in New York!"
In the afternoon, I took a walk up to pitch 13 where the women's rugby 7s tournament was being played. On route, I passed by pitches where the WPFG Softball was being played. There was something for everyone at the DUB today!
In action in the women's tournament were teams from An Garda Siochana, USA and two teams from Canada. I did manage to find a local player, a member of the PSNI, but she was wearing a Team USA shirt!
"It's a funny story how I got roped into playing here today. Basically, we don't have enough players to make a PSNI team but I play with Carrick and we wanted to have a friendly match against one of the WPFG teams, so we set it up with the Americans. It was that friendly, I don't even remember the score, I don't think we were that worried about it to be honest, we were just getting on well and having a laugh. When we were setting the match up, the Americans needed another player for these Games and asked me would I step in. It's been great fun, the girls are super. Hopefully for the next Games, we can pull together a team from the PSNI and the NIFRS and maybe double up with our counterparts in the Republic for an all Ireland team."
The Garda won all three of their matches and go into tomorrow's semi finals as the favourites. With an Irish International player on their team, they will be hard to beat.
There is a lot to play for tomorrow as the semis and finals of all the league tournaments will be played on the Arena. Come along to QUB DUB playing fields, just beyond the House of Sport, from 10am to see all the action!