20 Jun, 09:22
Ireland Women's Sevens head coach Jon Skurr has announced a 12-woman squad for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow (June 29-30).
Both of the winning All-Ireland senior men's and women's teams will then go on to represent Ireland in the Amsterdam Sevens tournament that also takes place in May.
Last year's competition saw clubs from all over Ireland participate in the provincial events and subsequently the national finals, which took place at St. Mary's College RFC on May 21.
This year, all of the provincial tournaments will see men's (senior and junior) and women's teams drawn from clubs all over Ireland wrapping up the season in a highly competitive seven-a-side form of the game.
The newly added underage boys and girls sections are expected to draw a large entry of teams.
IRFU Leisure Rugby Manager Olly Hodges said: "For a first year competition coming at the end of a busy season, last year was a great success in terms of the clubs who committed teams to the provincial and then national tournaments.
"The IRFU's Club Sevens strategy has been to introduce the Sevens game in a more formal manner for clubs rather than how the other invitational tournaments do.
"This allows clubs to bring actual grassroots players into competitive tournaments to play on a level playing environment and so let players develop their own understanding and experience of the game."
Last year's men's final was contested between Dublin University and Old Belvedere, with the students eventually winning out 39-10 in a thrilling final.
In the Women's competition, UL Bohemians emerged as champions having defeated St. Mary's College 22-0 in the decider.
Tony Smeeth, the director of rugby at Dublin University who recently won Division 2A of the Ulster Bank League, said: "Winning the 2011 All-Ireland Club Sevens title couldn't have happened at a better time.
"The confidence throughout the team following the win at the national finals and then at the 2011 Copenhagen Sevens was a massive boost ahead of our 2011/12 Ulster Bank League season.
"Playing in the IRFU Sevens certainly contributed to our core skill set and having the confidence to back ourselves to 'go for it'. This suits the way we want to play fifteens."
Barry Murphy, UL Bohemians' director of rugby, commented: "In addition to the core of our team from the fifteen-a-side game, the IRFU Club Sevens competitions handed our women's team a chance to introduce some up-and-coming players to senior rugby.
"This has proven itself invaluable in the development of our current squad this year and will continue to do so each year we participate.
"We are looking forward immensely to the challenge ahead in this year's tournament and will hopefully match last season's achievements."
Four provincial rounds of IRFU Club Sevens will take place on Saturday, April 28 with the All-Ireland Championship taking place two weeks later at Buccaneers RFC on Saturday, May 12.
Details on IRFU Club Sevens dates, registration and news can be found on www.irfusevens.ie.
2011/12 IRFU CLUB SEVENS TOURNAMENTS:
Saturday, April 28 -
- Connacht Championship (Galway Sportsground, Galway)
- Leinster Championship (De La Salle Palmerston, Dublin)
- Munster Championship (Bruff RFC, Limerick)
- Ulster Championship (Belfast Harlequins RFC, Belfast)
Saturday May 12 -
- All-Ireland Club Sevens Championship (Buccaneers RFC, Athlone)