The Irish Men Sevens extended squad to compete in the World Rugby Sevens Series London leg was announced yesterday afternoon.
Ireland Men will play in this tournament and in the Paris Sevens in June having won promotion to the 2020 World Rugby Sevens Series, as a core team, after winning the Hong Kong Sevens Series Qualifier in April.
It’s a big step up for Ireland Men Sevens, and it puts them on parity with Ireland Women – who have been core team in the Women’s Series since 2016.
Unfortunately, there are no Ulster based players involved. Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen) and Ballynahinch’s Iwan Hughes are listed on the IRFU as part of the overall sevens squad but Baloucoune has moved on within Ulster and Hughes has been named in the extended Ireland U20 squad so it’s unlikely that we’ll see either of them feature in London or Paris.
However, eight of the twelve players have featured in Ireland U20 squads over the years so we will be familiar with some of their work! 😀
The squad, which contains three new caps in Jack Daly, Jack Kelly and Peter Sullivan is shown below. Where appropriate (or, more correctly, where we could find the information) we’ve included their U20 main seasons and/or their previous experience in the World Series where they have competed twice before as an invitational side.
|Player||Club||U20||Sevens World Series|
|Billy Dardis (c)||Terenure College||2015||6||4|
|Jack Kelly*||Dublin University||2017|
|Terry Kennedy||St Mary’s College||2016||9||20|
|Bryan Mollen||Blackrock College||10||1|
|Mark Roche||Blackrock College||2013||10||38|
*Uncapped at sevens
** Foster Horan withdrawn (injured) replaced by Ian Fitzpatrick
Ireland really only have pride to play for over these two World Series events so it’s likely that coach Anthony Eddy will be using them to assess a few players ahead of the Olympic Qualifying campaign.
However, they will also be wanting to make an impact against other European sides who will also be competing on both fronts. England will represent Great Britain in the Olympics, so the key teams they will be looking to perform against are England, France and Spain.
For the tournament at the weekend Ireland have been drawn in Pool C alongside, hosts, England (currently ranked 5th), New Zealand (3rd) and Scotland (10th) , with England up first.
Their match schedule for Saturday 25th is as follows.
England v Ireland @ 12:04 UK/IRE
New Zealand v Ireland @ 14:48 UK/IRE
Scotland v Ireland @ 17:45 UK/IRE
It looks like it’ll be a tough enough competition for the Irish side but they really have nothing to lose and all to gain if they play well.
The London 7s will be broadcast on Sky Sports Arena (Saturday) and Sky Sports Action (Sunday).
World Rugby will offer streaming in non geo-blocked locations via www.worldrugby.org/sevens-series/.
With regards the London tournament as a whole the main contenders are the top four ranked sides in the series to date.
These are USA (1st), Fiji (2nd), New Zealand (3rd) and South Africa (4th). South Africa go into the tournament as the form team having won two of the last three tournaments, the top four finishers over the last three tournaments are shown below:
|1st||South Africa||Fiji||South Africa|
France (9th) and England (5th) are the form European teams at the minute with both achieving top four finishes over the last three tournaments as they ramp up for Olympic Qualification.