Grand Slam-winning flanker Claire Molloy, who captained the Ireland Women’s squad to Rugby World Cup Sevens qualification last year, has been named in the squad for Ireland’s debut in the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series this weekend.
It has been a hectic fortnight for Claire Molloy who has gone from helping the Ireland Women secure a famous Six Nations Grand Slam in Italy to completing her medical exams at Cardiff University.
Molloy’s focus is back on rugby for the Easter weekend as she captains the Ireland Women’s squad at the Guangzhou Sevens tournament.
Her return sees fellow Connacht native Carol Staunton drop out of the 12-player panel that won the Bowl title at last week’s Hong Kong Sevens.
The two tournaments in Hong Kong and Guangzhou are part of the Women’s Sevens preparations for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow this June.
The squad was captained in Hong Kong by Jeannette Feighery and now includes eight players who were involved in the RBS 6 Nations Championship success in Milan.
This weekend promises to be a major step along the route to growing rugby in China as Guangzhou hosts the third leg of the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.
The move to host the event in China’s third largest city is designed to jointly foster the game and give structure to its growth in one of rugby’s most exciting emerging market.
As preparations towards this summer’s Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in Moscow also continue, the first live streaming from the series will make the matches available online for rugby fans all over the world, from wsws.irb.com.
Fans in Guangzhou and web users will be able to watch 12 international sides from all over the globe competing at the 50,000-seater Guangzhou University Town Stadium, including the six core teams – Australia, Canada, England, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA.
The event will see Ireland, Fiji and Tunisia make their series debuts, ahead of their participation in the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
Tournament hosts China, alongside Japan and South America qualifiers Brazil, make up the 12 teams in the landmark event.
“With over 80% of the world’s youth, the IRB has identified the Asia region as being a key growth area for rugby,” said IRB Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan.
“This weekend’s exciting Women’s Sevens World Series is just another step forward in that regard. Guangzhou is set to become a centre of excellence and a genuine hub for the sport in China.
“I’m really looking forward to some excellent matches, especially with Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow just around the corner.
“The IRB has invested approximately £9 million into the development of rugby in Asia between 2009 and 2012, a region where men’s and women’s 15-a-side rugby and Sevens is going from strength to strength.”
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2013 Guangzhou Sevens, Saturday, March 30-Sunday, March 31):
Christine Arthurs (Tralee/Connacht)
Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) *
Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile) *
Amy Davis (Blackrock College/Ulster) *
Jeannette Feighery (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Ashling Hutchings (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster) *
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht) *
Claire Molloy (Bristol/Exile) (capt) *
Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Sophie Spence (Mowden Sharks/Exile) *
* Players involved in RBS 6 Nations Championship
Ireland Match Schedule at Guangzhou Sevens –
Saturday – Pool B
Canada v Ireland, Guangzhou University Town Stadium, 11.50am local time/3.50am Irish time
Australia v Ireland, Guangzhou University Town Stadium, 1.50pm local time/5.50am Irish time
Japan v Ireland, Guangzhou University Town Stadium, 4.54pm local time/8.54am Irish time
Sunday – Play-Offs
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