There was double delight for the Ireland Women’s squad and management in Moscow this evening as they qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens quarter-finals and booked their place in next season’s IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.
Ireland lost to defending champions Australia but posted victories over South Africa (12-5) and China (28-10) to finish as Pool B runners-up behind the Wallaroos.
It crowns a brilliant debut in the Rugby World Cup Sevens for the Jon Skurr-coached squad, with nine of the 2013 Grand Slam winners on board in the Russian capital.
Ireland’s opponents in the Cup quarter-finals tomorrow will be the USA, whose three wins over Brazil, Fiji and Spain saw them top Pool C.
That game will be played at Gorodok Stadium (kick-off 12.50pm local time/9.50am Irish time), with Ireland hoping to reverse a narrow 17-14 loss to the Americans from the recent London Sevens event.
Ireland captain Claire Molloy led by example throughout the pool stages while Alison Miller, the hat-trick star from the Six Nations, finished day one with three tries in as many games.
Lynne Cantwell, who said she was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the two pool wins, is the country’s most-capped Women’s player in the 15-a-side game and her skills as a strong-running centre are ideally suited to Sevens.
Ireland’s achievements in Moscow mark another significant step in their journey towards qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Their top eight finish means they are also guaranteed a place in the 2013/14 IRB Women’s Sevens World Series as one of the eight core teams.
The inaugural Women’s Sevens World Series was won by New Zealand recently, and took place at four destinations from November through to May – Dubai, Houston, Guangzhou in China and Amsterdam.
Ireland actually made their Series debut as an invitational team at the Guangzhou event in March and won the Plate title, claiming the scalps of Australia and the Netherlands along the way.
Having a Series slot as one of the core teams will really help develop Irish Women’s Sevens, with the girls in green able to regularly test themselves against the world’s best teams in elite level, high performance competition.
It will also afford rugby fans at home and abroad the chance to closely follow Ireland’s fortunes in Women’s international Sevens, as this year’s first Series created massive interest worldwide.
A large number of broadcasters showed the games in territories all across the world. The last leg of the Series in Amsterdam was shown in 107 countries with a broadcast reach of over 250 million homes across the world.
Please see below for match reports from day one in Moscow, post-match reaction, video highlights and Ireland’s results/fixtures.
Meanwhile, registrations are still open for a screening camp for girls for the Under-18 Provincial Sevens squad to take part in the UK School Games later in the summer.
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens, Gorodok Stadium, Luzhniki Olympic Complex, Moscow, Russia, Saturday, June 29-Sunday, June 30):
1. Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
2. Claire Molloy (Bristol/Exile) (capt) *
3. Sophie Spence (Mowden Sharks/Exile) *
4. Jeannette Feighery (UL Bohemians/Munster)
5. Larissa Muldoon (UWIC/Exile) *
6. Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile) *
7. Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht) *
8. Shannon Houston (Blackrock College/Leinster) *
9. Amy Davis (Blackock College/Ulster) *
10. Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) *
11. Laura O’Mahony (Tralee/Munster)
12. Nicole Caughey (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Injured: Niamh Briggs, Niamh Kavanagh, Ashling Hutchings, Claire Keohane, Carol Staunton.
* Players Involved in the 2013 RBS 6 Nations Championship
Ireland Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens Results/Fixtures –
Saturday, June 29 – Pool B
South Africa 5 Ireland 12, Gorodok Stadium
Australia 22 Ireland 5, Gorodok Stadium
China 10 Ireland 28, Luzhniki Stadium
Sunday, June 30 – Play-Offs
USA v Ireland, Gorodok Stadium, 12.50pm local time/9.50am Irish time