See how this exciting carnival creates new sporting journeys
RUGBY: An idea at Boonah State High School to encourage more students to play rugby has grown into an impressive annual carnival.
Twenty-two teams, including newcomers from Merrimac and Kenmore state schools, joined a number of sides from the Ipswich region at the latest CISSSA Sevens competition at Tivoli.
Carnival organiser Dom Dalais was delighted with the response having launched the concept with 10 teams at Woodend Park.
"We are a small school and we probably don't have the numbers to field a decent rugby league side,'' the Boonah State High HPE teacher said.
"I just thought Sevens would suit our guys perfectly.''
That has exposed students to an exciting new sport.
"It (the carnival) has doubled in size in four years and certainly in our school, the kids absolutely love it,'' Dalais said.
"At the start of the year, they were already asking when Rugby Sevens was on.
"Sevens is a perfect introduction to union for the kids, if they are league players especially.''
Queensland Rugby Union Brisbane South West region development officer Josh Afu agreed.
"The whole goal is to get more kids playing the game and getting them out there and actually having a try in different formats,'' Afu said.
"Fifteen a side (traditional rugby) isn't going to be for everybody. For smaller schools, or schools just starting out their rugby journey, Sevens is a little bit more for them to get a taste of it and get a feel for it.
"The ultimate goal is to get more kids playing the 15-a-side game as well.''
Afu was pleased to have the QRU involved in the carnival, working with dedicated teachers like South African-bred Dalais.
Forty-seven games were played at the Tivoli Sporting Complex on Tuesday.
Regional schools joining Boonah were Bremer, Bundamba, Bellbird Park and Ipswich. They fielded sides in under 14, under 16 and open boys' and girls' divisions.
Bremer State High won the open boys' and girls' competitions after being unbeaten during a thrilling day of rugby.
Bellbird Park's under-14 boys won their division, having joined the carnival this year.
Bellbird Park's promising young team dominated every game they played.
Ipswich State High reached the under-16 boys' final, losing to Kenmore State High, another competition newcomer.
The games were seven minutes each way.
"The contact side of it isn't as brutal,'' Afu said. "It allows the kids to actually use their skills and see the open play.
"The kids' eyes just light up when they get those opportunities.''
Tuesday's carnival was staged in the lead-up to Rugby Australia's high performance team visiting Ipswich on Thursday night searching for First Nations talent.
The #dreamBigTime tour includes a session at Rangers ground at Woodend Park, from 7pm-8.30pm.
Afu and Dalais said the growth of the carnival to 16 sides last year and now more than 20 augured well for the future.
"We do expect it to get even bigger again next year,'' Afu said.
Look out for more photos from Tuesday's carnival in next week's QT Junior Sport section.
Sevens carnival winners
Open boys: Bremer State High.
Open girls: Bremer State High.
U16 boys: Kenmore State High.
U16 girls: Miami State High.
U14 boys: Bellbird Park.
U14 girls: Merrimac State High.