The Ireland Women’s and Men’s Sevens squads were named last week for next weekend’s Dubai Rugby Sevens which runs from 3rd to 5th December.
With both sides failing to trouble the main contenders earlier this month in Spain a big improvement is needed if their dreams of Olympic Qualification via the Repêchage are to remain viable through to next summer.
Having had all the cards stacked in their favour for re-qualification for the HBSC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series the Irish Women now face the toughest of challenges, having been placed in the same group as USA, Canada and Fiji and, missing proven internationals like Jenny Murphy and Claire Molloy, they will probably be fighting it out in Day 2 for “best of the rest” with Spain, Brazil and Japan.
However, the World Series is the level at which they need to play and a small improvement tournament by tournament may be enough to see them through come crunch time in June.
The men on the other hand may struggle to get sufficient high quality games this season. This time round they are taking part a fairly makeshift International Invitational Men’s Sevens competition at a level significantly below that of the World Series and I’d guess a top two finish would be their minimum requirement if they are going to be in a position to compete come June.
The Front Row Union’s interest in Ireland Sevens comes from the inclusion of two former Front Row Union Players of the Year in Ashleigh Baxter of Cooke, Ulster and Ireland in the Women’s Squad and Dave McGuigan of Friends School, Ballynahinch and Ulster U20’s who has returned to the men’s squad after missing out last time round due to injury.
McGuigan is joined in the Men’s Squad by fellow Ballynahinch player Aaron Cairns and Queens player Nick Timoney who has forced his way into the Ulster Academy this season having been released by Leinster Academy over the summer.
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS
Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster)
Megan Williams (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht)
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum/Leinster) (capt)
Eimear Considine (TID)
Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Amee-Leigh Crowe (St. Mary’s/Munster)
Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht)
Audrey O’Flynn (TID)
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Ireland Women’s Sevens Fixtures –
Thursday, December 3:
USA v Ireland, 12.42pm local time/4.42pm Irish time
Canada v Ireland, 3.16pm local time/7.16pm Irish time
Fiji v Ireland, 6.35pm local time/10.35pm Irish time
Friday, December 4:
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS
Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Aaron Cairns (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt)
Barry Daly (UCD/Leinster)
Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Gearoid Lyons (Young Munster/Munster)
David McGuigan (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Rory O’Loughlin (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Nick Timoney (Queen’s University/Ulster)
Steve Toal-Lennon (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Ireland Men’s Sevens Fixtures –
Friday, December 4:
Belgium Rugby 7s v Ireland, 1pm local time/5pm Irish time
Apache v Ireland, 4pm local time/8pm Irish time
Saturday, December 5: