The Ireland Sevens squad may have ended the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens on a losing note – going down to Zimbabwe in the Bowl final – but the three-day tournament in Dubai was still a very enjoyable and beneficial experience for Kieran Campbell and his team-mates.
Played six matches, won three and lost three. That is Ireland’s record from the 2009 Rugby World Sevens which finished today in Dubai with Zimbabwe winning the Bowl title, Scotland securing the Plate and Wales the surprise winners of the Melrose Cup.
The undoubted high point from an Irish perspective was Friday’s 24-21 pool win over Australia, a team that plays throughout the season in the IRB Sevens World Series.
Jon Skurr’s side followed up with victories today over the Arabian Gulf and Hong Kong in the knock-out stages of the Bowl competition, before Zimbabwe edged them out on a 17-14 scoreline in the Bowl decider.
A converted try from team captain Kieran Campbell saw Ireland put one hand on the Bowl trophy, leading 14-12 with just three minutes remaining.
But a last-gasp five-pointer from Zimbabwe’s Jacques Leitao proved to be the match-winning score as the African outfit secure the silverware.
Speaking straight after the game, Campbell said: “It’s been a fantastic event. We were all buzzing going into the final.
“Unfortunately, maybe we were a bit too over-hyped. We made a few silly errors. It really does expose you in this game. It cost us dearly.”
Reflecting on the tournament and the experience of playing in the Middle East, the Connacht scrum half admitted: “It’s certainly a lot warmer and there is a wee bit more of a carnival atmosphere. I’ve played in some good venues but this one has been fantastic.
“All the lads have really enjoyed it and it’s just unfortunate we did not get the result we wanted at the end there.
“But it’s been a great learning curve over the last few days and I feel we have entertained the people as well.”
The International Rugby Board’s push to have rugby included in the Olympics is gaining support by the day and Campbell said the success of the Dubai tournament bodes well for the IRB’s efforts.
“It’s been fantastic…the crowds were fantastic, the excitement, even with developing nations coming through, it’s not been a one or two-horse race which everyone expected.
“The main event has come down to two teams (Wales and Argentina) that I don’t think anyone would have picked at the start of the tournament, so I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase the event and get it towards the Olympics, definitely.”