Former New Zealand 7s international Mere Baker sees great potential at Girls Rugby tournament at Railway Union…

It was a day for debutantes at the Railway Union Girls Schools 7s Tournament, as all four competitions were taken by teams making their debut in the tournament, 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 has 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 San 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. Andrew’s taking the 1st Year’s competition and Loreto on the Green taking the Junior Competition defeating St. Louis in the final. Indeed, Loreto proved to be somewhat of a bête 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. In a hugely entertaining game with plenty of skill on show, St. Raphaela’s defeated the reigning champions to cue a pitch invasion and loud celebrations from their supporters.

The players afterwards were treated to crowd-pleasing post-tournament meal of pizza and the trophies were presented to the winning captains. The Player of the Tournament trophy was taken by the outstanding Niamh Lakes, who was instrumental in St. Raphaela’s securing the TY competition.

Also announced was the ‘Railway Dream Team’ – the twelve players across all age grades who were deemed to be the best players on the day. This was a very difficult pick and it was fitting that players from six different schools achieved representation. These players were presented with their specially designed ‘Railway Dream Team’ jerseys by Head of Girls Rugby, Alison Nolan.

The next tournament takes place on Friday 2nd May where up to 30 teams and 500 girls are expected to take part.

For further details on Railway’s Girls Schools 7s, email

Photos of the day are on the Railway Facebook page and on the page of our guest photographer here.

Senior Cup Winners: Loreto

TY Cup Winners: St Raphaelas

Junior Cup Winners: Loreto

1st Year Cup Winners: St Andrews

Railway Dream Team: Emma Colgan (Loreto), Catherine Martin (Loreto), Stacey Flood (St Louis), Hannah Hegarty (St Louis), Jess Johnston (Sion Hill), Nikata Doyle (Rockford Manor), Afric O’Leary-Deane (St Louis), Esme Gallawey (Newpark), Claire Cashman (Muckross), Sophie Dolan (Loreto), Aisling McMurphy (St Raphaelas), Eve Higgins (Loreto)

Player of the Tournament: Niamh Lakes (St Raphaelas)