The Portlaoise Under-18 Girls travelled to Buccaneers RFC Athlone for the all-female '7s in the City' tournament in aid of Action Breast Cander. This was the first time for Portlaoise to play Sevens in competition at this age group.
The Portlaoise Under-18 Girls team, named the 'Seven Deadly Sins', reflected the massive growth in popularity of this sport among schoolgirls in Ireland and around the world since it has been designated an Olympic sport. The girls trained with Sevens specialist Mark Roberts in the previous three weeks.
The '7s in the City' format was round-robin with four teams qualifying for the semi-finals. The speed and intensity of the game is such that the time allowed for each half is seven minutes, except in the final where it increases to ten minutes.
The Portlaoise squad consisted of Aoife McNeill, Róisín McWey, Rebecca Mullen, Abigail Mullen, Mairéad Keogh, Tara Buggie, Áine Camphuijsen, Lauren Roberts, Emma Startin, Robyn Mullen and Anna O'Neill.
The 'Seven Deadly Sins' from Portlaoise emerged from the group stages to qualify for the semi-finals with tries from Tara Buggie and Anna O'Neill.
The semi-final saw Portlaoise pitched against Railway Union. From the start Abigail Mullen, Mairéad Keogh, Emma Startin, Robyn Mullen, Tara Buggie and Aoife McNeill stretched Union's defensive line using the width of the pitch.
Róisín McWey, Áine Camphuijsen, Rebecca Mullen, Lauren Roberts, Emma Startin and Anna O'Neill attacked from deep, creating pace onto the ball and made it easier to identify spaces.
Portlaoise constantly tested Union's drift defence, exploiting their player with a step or and inside pass. A typical move from Áine Camphuijsen, playing scrum half, picked, dummied and stepped her opponent to run in a superb try.
Portlaoise were always a threat with the ball and emerged deserving winners with further tries from Rebecca Mullen and Lauren Roberts. Railway Union had no reply and Portlaoise progressed to the final on a scoreline of 15-0.
The final against Carrick-on-Suir proved a bridge too far with Carrick sporting three girls from the international squad.
Róisín McWey scored a marvellous try in the decider. The outcome of two tries to one augurs well for the Portlaoise side who have just commenced training in this new code. Portlaoise also have a number of players in reserve who were unavailable for this debut tournament in the midlands.
Portlaoise are currently recruiting players and athletes who would like to play this exciting brand of rugby and emulate their previous or current international schoolgirl squad players - Anna O'Neill, Aoife Murphy and Eimear Corri.
The Portlaoise girls' next Sevens matches will be in Greystones on Saturday, July 12.
A fascinating battle lies ahead in the Ulster Bank Junior Cup final on Saturday, as Enniscorthy aim for their second title in three years and Instonians bid to lift the trophy at their very first attempt.
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The IRFU High Performance Unit, under Colin McEntee, and Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek brought together coaches from all four provinces and Ireland representative teams to share ideas and look at recent trends in scrummaging. We spoke to Colin and Greg on the day.
Watch the IRFU/Ulster Bank 'Your Club, Your Country' Grand Draw which took place at Irish Rugby headquarters. The winning tickets were drawn by IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan and Lionel Mahon of Ulster Bank, with Aidan Connaughton of Grant Thornton overseeing the draw. The full list of winners is available here - http://www.irishrugby.ie/news/36203.php.
Table toppers Clontarf entertained Galwegians in Ulster Bank League Division 1A, hosting the game on their new 4G pitch which was officially opened on the day by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan.
With the Ulster Bank League resuming this week, we take a look back at a cracking Division 1A contest from the last round when Old Belvedere got the better of defending champions Lansdowne at Anglesea Road.
There was huge excitement surrounding the Aviva Irish Schools Rugby Festival last Sunday as 32 boys and girls teams got to play at the home of Irish Rugby. We hear from IRFU National Age-Grade Manager Hendrik Kruger, Shane Culleton from St. MacDara's, Ireland Women's star Jenny Murphy and some of the players involved on the day.
We take a look back at one of the best games from the opening four rounds of Ulster Bank League Division 1A - Galwegians' memorable 41-20 defeat of reigning champions Lansdowne at Crowley Park last Saturday.
Highlights of Lansdowne's 24-10 Friday Night Lights victory over Terenure College on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch, as Mike Ruddock's men maintain their unbeaten start to the Ulster Bank League season.
Galwegians head coach Matt Brown talks about his side's return to Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League, while New Zealander Josh Hrstich, captain of Garryowen, looks forward to their campaign - including this Friday's derby clash with Young Munster.
The Ulster Bank League kicks off on Friday night and fans can tune in from around the world for IrishRugby.ie's live stream of the Division 1A opener between UCD and Clontarf at the Belfield Bowl (kick-off 7.30pm). We hear from captains Stephen Murphy and Ben Reilly.
Ireland Women's internationals Nora Stapleton and Niamh Briggs talk to Irish Rugby TV about the IRFU's new Long Term Player Development Model for Women's rugby. For more on Women's LTPD, please visit www.irishrugby.ie/womensltpd.
The launch of the IRFU Long Term Player Development programme for Women's rugby is an important milestone in the game. Michael McGeehin of Coaching Ireland and Louis Magee, former IRFU President, speak about the programme.
The Irish Rugby Football Union will help clubs make the most of the upcoming Rugby World Cup with a number of initiatives designed to make clubs 'THE' place to support the men in green during England 2015.
MU Barnhall RFC hosted their first ever Special Needs Tag Rugby Blitz last weekend. Great fun was had by the players and coaches from the Barnhall Buffaloes, Salmo Eagles, Westmanstown Taggers, Terenure Tigers and Mullingar Lions as they showed that rugby is a sport for all.