The Ireland Sevens squad team up this week as they travel to Hannover in search of qualification for the 2009 Sevens World Cup in Dubai. IrishRugby.ie takes a look at the final FIRA-AER qualifying tournament in Germany.
The Ireland Sevens squad are in camp again this week to finalise their preparations for the Hannover Sevens tournament next weekend (July 12-13). This is the final tournament in the FIRA-AER qualifying series for the 2009 Sevens World Cup in Dubai.
Ireland are seeded third having won their previous tournament in Poland. Prior to that they finished runners-up to Wales in Denmark.
The performance of the squad in Poland will have been noted by their opponents as Ireland won the tournament without conceding a single score – a difficult task in any game but particularly so in Sevens.
Ireland are in Pool B alongside Wales, Italy, Ukraine, Poland and Belgium. Top seeds Portugal are in Pool A with Spain, Russia, Romania, Georgia and host country Germany.
Ireland will open the tournament with a game against the Ukraine at 12pm on Saturday. Next up is a crucial game against second seeds Wales at 3.10pm followed by the game against Italy at 5.40pm and Belgium at 7.30pm.
On Sunday, Ireland will play their final pool game against Poland at 9.50am.
The top two sides in each pool will go through to the Cup semi-finals and Ireland will be hoping to be in this section.
The action all takes place in the 50,000-seater AWD-Arena in Hannover and interest in the tournament is outstripping expectations.
Over 30,000 tickets have already been sold, mostly to fans in Germany and the DRV (German Rugby Union) is expecting this to reach near capacity on the day.
Germany’s Sevens coach, New Zealander Philip ‘Lofty’ Stevenson, is looking forward to the tournament.
He said: “Our goal is to win because if we don’t go in to win it, we have lost already.
“We need to be a unit, a strong team and I am excited to be able to have the chance to do it, to do it for Germany, for German rugby and the German rugby people.
“It is really a showcase for the sport and a giant leap onto the European rugby stage.”
With 42 games over the two days the fans are in for a treat.
For more information on the tournament, click here.