10 Dec, 10:30
The IRFU and Munster are pleased to announce that Conor Murray has signed a new two-year contract with the IRFU which will see him remain at Munster until at least June 2016.
The invited teams will have the opportunity to play against the six core teams with preparation for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in Moscow very much part of their plans.
The 12-team tournaments already include Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA but the six invited teams for the three remaining rounds are:
USA (Houston), February 1-2: Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago
China (Guangzhou), March 30-31: China, South American RWC Sevens 2013 qualifier*, Fiji, Japan, Ireland, Tunisia
Netherlands (Amsterdam), May 17-18: China, South American RWC Sevens 2013 qualifier*, France, Russia, South Africa, Spain
Ireland qualified for the World Cup Sevens in 2013 after an intensive training and qualifying programme last summer saw them finish in the top five of the last qualifying event which also took place in Moscow.
Captained by Claire Molloy, who won the Guinness Rugby Writers award for Women's Player of the Year, the rapid progress of the girls in green and the improvements made during that training and playing programme show they have the potential to mix it with the top Sevens sides in Europe and beyond.
Boosted by tournament wins in a number of invitational competitions and the qualifiers in Ghent, Belgium, they headed to Moscow knowing that a top five finish there would be enough to book their place at the World Cup this season.
The inclusion of Ireland in the China round of the IRB World Sevens Series will form part of an overall programme for the panel as they aim to peak for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow next June.
Ireland Women's Sevens team manager Gemma Crowley believes the panel has a wonderful opportunity to test themselves against some of the top nations in Sevens rugby.
"The panel really progressed in a short space of time last year when we went through the qualifying process and the goal is to continue that progression this year before we hit the World Cup in June next year," she said.
"There will be a number of camps and other tournaments that that we will be playing in over the next six months, but the Sevens Series tournament offers a real step up in intensity for the panel and gives us a real chance to continue to build our experience levels."
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