Snowy conditions and a tough pool draw make for an interesting first foray to the Atlanta Sevens for the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad. We caught up with head coach Jon Skurr to see how preparations are going.
IrishRugby.ie: How have preparations for the Atlanta leg of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series gone so far?
Jon: It’s been very interesting since we arrived in Atlanta, fortunately we came in early and managed to get a few good days of training before the snow and ice hit!
Atlanta isn’t used to snow and the whole city ground to a halt for nearly two days. A number of teams have had their arrivals delayed and a few of the referees aren’t here yet.
The players have been fantastic even though they have been stuck in the hotel for the last few days. They have provided significant entertainment for themselves, the management and some of the other teams!
USA Rugby have done a great job in dealing with what has been a challenging situation and have managed to come up with a number of unique training venues.
IrishRugby.ie: You have a number of new caps (in the squad), are they looking forward to the start of the tournament?
Jon: The girls can’t wait, we have five players making their debuts in Atlanta and they are all very excited and are looking forward to pulling on an Irish jersey for the first time.
A number of the girls have come through our Elite Talent Identification programme – Laura Lee Walsh and Susan Vaughan from GAA and Nicole Cronin from soccer – and it’s exciting to see what they can do at this level so early into their new sporting careers.
We also see two products of our already established pathways making their debuts, Megan Williams who was spotted via the Exiles branch and Aoife Doyle who was one of the stand-out performers from the Under-19 Irish team that got to the semi-final stage of the UK School Games.
One of the most pleasing aspects for me is the relatively young age of the squad, we are starting to see a number of young players making the transition through youth rugby into the senior game.
It’s a very exciting time for Women’s rugby in Ireland and hopefully some of players that we will see in action in Atlanta will go onto to have long and distinguished careers in both formats of the game.
IrishRugby.ie: You’ve got a tough pool draw, what are your expectations of the team?
Jon: We have spent most of our time looking at very clear performance goals and have tried to simplify the game-plan, but execute this with precision.
It has become very clear that the best male and female teams in the Sevens world do the basic things very well.
It’s going to be a big learning curve for the team and they need to judged on just how much they improve game by game, there are no easy teams at a Women’s Sevens World Series event and we know what we will have to do to compete.
The attitude of the team especially the new players has been first class and the attitudes that they are bringing in from their previous experiences is helping to continue to raise the bar.
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