The Heineken Kinsale 7s gets underway this weekend with the festival set to be as exciting and competitive as ever and with a full jam-packed social programme in place, thousands are expected to descend on Cork.
With this competition increasing in popularity each year, it is not a surprise to see every available registration slot taken with teams applying from across Europe.
In terms of the elite competition, each team consists of high quality rugby players who have played across the world and they will be battling it out for their name to be on that trophy on Sunday afternoon.
One team that is an ever present at this tournament are the RedPanda 7s which are entered into the elite category of the competition. Created in 2012 by Max Ashcroft, he has firmly been involved with this team in various 7s events.
For a number of years now, the team have been led by Director of Rugby, Alex Keay who has a vast experience of playing rugby at the highest level and importantly for the RedPanda 7s, he has coached some of the best UK club and University rugby.
This will be the fifth time Max and fellow team organiser Max Skofic have taken a team to the Heineken Kinsale 7s. They have had a number of talented players in their sides, but are still yet to clinch the crown in this tournament having coming close on a number of occasions
Former players have included Tom Whitely (Saracens), Simon Hamersley (Newcastle Falcons), Mike Pope (Cornish Pirates), George De Cothi (Worcester) Joe Ellyatt (Stade Rouennais), Freddie Clakre and Alex Brown (England Students), the Skofic Bros (Sloveina) and several more very talented players who applied and still are applying their trade at very high levels of rugby.
In 2012 and 2013 RedPanda 7s reached the final and in 2013 they were runners up to Wild Geese of Ireland. Last year, they finished Day One of the competition as winners, with a 100 per cent record under their belts, but unfortunately fell at the semi-final stage of the tournament.
So that first title for RedPanda still eludes them at Kinsale, but they are one of the strong challengers for the trophy this time around. Their squad consists of former academy players from across the best leagues in the UK and abroad and also some of the best talent from the university game.
Once again this year, RedPanda 7s’ kit is designed and hand drawn by Max Skofic. At the launch, Sale Sharks players Mike Haley, Tommy Taylor, Josh Beaumont and Will Addison helped promote the RP7s 2015 kit and the new 7s season with Haley being a former RedPanda player at Bournemouth 7s back in 2013.
In terms of the event itself, it is a fantastic showcase of rugby with the town of Kinsale reaping the rewards across the weekend. The atmosphere is always superb with pubs, night clubs and bars providing excellent nights over the three days.
So is it RedPanda’s time? Can they take the crown from Wooden Spoon 7s in the elite competition this year and clinch their first Kinsale 7s title?
Keep up-to-date with Talking Rugby Union’s website throughout the weekend and also follow them on Twitter at @TalkRugbyUnion to keep tabs on the action.
For more information about the event click here.