The Ireland Sevens squad received another boost to their qualifying campaign for the IRB World Sevens today when it was announced that the Irish Independent will be the title sponsors of the team.
The Irish Independent, the largest circulating newspaper in Ireland, is part of the Independent News & Media group and its support to the team comes at a crucial time for the side.
The team picked up a runners-up spot at the Odense Sevens tournament at the start of May, being narrowly beaten by Wales in the final, but bettered that result by winning the tournament last weekend in Sopot in Poland.
The Ireland squad is being coached by Jon Skurr and managed by Hugh McCaughey and contains players from the provincial teams and exiles with a blend of Magners League and Churchill Cup experience.
The squad cruised through the Poland tournament with victories over Denmark (47-0), Hungary (40-0), Lithuania (40-0), Sweden (21-0) and Netherlands (semi-final, 32-0) and they beat hosts Poland 24-0 in the final.
Commenting on the victory and the sponsorship announcement, IRFU President Der Healy said: “Our entry back into Sevens competition has gone extremely well and the performance of the team in Poland puts us in a strong position to qualify for the World Sevens next year.
“The added bonus of the sponsorship of the team by the Irish Independent gives the team even greater impetus for the final qualifying tournament and I wish the team every success in that bid.”
Ireland’s win in Poland gives the squad a top five seeding for the final qualifier in Hanover, Germany, in July where only the top five teams from that competition will qualify for the IRB Sevens World Cup in Dubai next year.
One of the pleasing aspects of the win in Sopot was that the side did not concede a single point but manager McCaughey admits that the final qualifier will be even tougher.
“Clearly the finals will be much tougher with teams like Wales, Italy, Russia and Portugal all playing Sevens regularly, including on the world circuit. We however are confident that with the squad we have, we can do well in the finals,” he said.