Ireland Men 7s topped the table at the end of the three day Red Bull International Rugby 7s tournament organised by the RFU and hosted at the national football centre, St. George’s Park, Burton upon Trent, between 15-17 May.
The tournament featured three teams, Team GB, USA and Ireland with Team GB and USA looking to get some game time in ahead of the Olympic 7s in Tokyo on 26-28 July 2021. Ireland are still looking to qualify for the Olympics and they were preparing for the Olympic repechage that takes place in Monaco on 19-20 June 2021. The teams played each other three times over the three days.
Despite the championship falling into Ireland’s hands on the final day the tournament really was just a chance to get some competitive rugby under the hood for the players and it served it’s purpose with a reasonable mix of competition and experimentation.
Saturday 15th May 2021
Sunday 16th May 2021
MONday 17th May 2021
Who did what?
Head coach Anthony Eddy took an extended squad of 16 players to the tournament to have a look at as he searches for his strongest side for the Olympic Repechage. There were three current Ulster players in the squad, Ben Moxham, Jude Postlethwaite and Aaron Sexton with ex player Rory Scholes also making the trip.
The players used over the tournament are shown below and we have ranked them by their appearances over the three days – 2 points for a starting appearance (S) and one point for a replacement appearance (R)
|Kennedy, Terry||St Marys College||S||S||S||S||S||10|
|Scholes, Rory||Ireland 7s||R||R||R||S||R||6|
|Crowley, Jack||Cork Con||R||R||S||4|
|Phillips, Conor||Young Munster||R||R||S||4|
|Krummeck, Duran||Ireland 7s||R||R||R||3|
Of the Ulster players, Postlethwaite and Sexton both appeared in 5 of the games, each starting in 2 and coming on as replacements in 3 games. Despite Sexton scoring twice it was Postlethwaite who performed the best, in my opinion, playing up front as a prop and putting in a big effort throughout.
In fairness I also thought that the combination of Postlethwaite and Moxham, as props in Match 4 against Team GB, looked pretty good with Moxham catching the eye in that one. I was somewhat surprised this combination didn’t get another run out in the final day.
Ireland scored 107 points over the six games, the points coming from 17 tries and 11 conversions giving a conversion rate of 65%. The Ireland scorers are shown below.
|Kennedy, Terry||St Marys||T||T||2T||20|
|Dardis, Billy||Terenure||C||C||C||1T, 2C||15|
|Crowley, Jack||Cork Con||2C||1T, 2C||13|
|Krummeck, Duran||Ireland 7s||T||5|
|Scholes, Rory||Ireland 7s||T||5|
The “aul hans” of Jordan Conroy, Terry Kennedy and Billy Dardis topped the scoring charts though Dardis was used comparatively sparingly. Jack Crowley came in as back up kicker though it was difficult to tell as some of the conversions weren’t shown. However, the most important kicks were perhaps Sean Cribbin’s in the final match which claimed their only win against Team GB to secure the title.
With the Olympic repechage a month away it’s still a guessing game to what the final squad will look like. Seven World Series regulars from 2019 – 20, John O’Donnell, Harry McNulty, Foster Horan, Jack Kelly, Mark Roche, Adam Leavy and Greg O’Shea, weren’t included in this important hit out and it’s not clear if they are still in the programme.
Of the Ulster players, Sexton showed his worth as an impact player and Postlethwaite probably put in the most consistent performances across the weekend. Moxham impressed, despite limited time, and hopefully the youngster will get another chance to show his worth.
There are ten teams in contention for the final Olympic qualification place have been drawn into two pools of five teams. Teams will play against all four opponents in their pools with the top two teams from each pool progressing through two knockout stages, culminating in a winner being decided in the final.
The matches take place in takes place in Monaco on 19-20 June 2021. France are the top seeds and they should top Pool B with some comfort. Ireland face tougher opposition in Pool A with Samoa and Tonga likely to be physical encounters.