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Ireland Sevens Squad On ‘A Steep Learning Curve’

Ireland Sevens Squad On ‘A Steep Learning Curve’

‘Tough but enjoyable’ was the reaction of the Ireland Women’s Sevens camp as the squad reflected on their performances at the Atlanta Sevens – the second leg of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.

Day one in Atlanta ended on a very positive note as tries from Nicole Cronin and captain Shannon Houston inspired this new-look Ireland squad to a 12-10 victory over the Netherlands.

Having lost earlier to England and World champions New Zealand, the result against the Dutch was just reward for a combination of clever attacking and defensive grit from the girls in green.

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But the second day at the Stateside tournament did not go to plan for Jon Skurr’s young side as they lost the Bowl semi-final to China and were beaten in a play-off by Brazil, the hosts of this week’s World Series leg in São Paulo.

Although disappointed with a return of four defeats in five games, skipper Shannon Houston says they will only get better by playing regularly against the world’s top teams.

“It was a tough weekend but we knew it was going to be heading into it. We did get better as the day went on on Saturday and it was a gutsy game against the Netherlands which was a huge positive for us,” she said.

“But it was disappointing that we couldn’t continue to improve on Sunday. We do have a very new team and it’s a steep learning curve but you want to and have to play against the best if you want to improve.”

That will be the case again in São Paulo on Friday as Ireland have been drawn again with Atlanta winners New Zealand and England in Pool A, with the USA completing the quartet.

Houston added: “We’ll take loads of lessons into next weekend and we’ve another really tough pool, but hopefully we can raise our own standards and continue to build as we move forward in the World Series.”

Claire Keohane echoed her captain’s thoughts by saying: “It was a tough weekend, but there’s plenty of positives to take from the experience. We will learn and progress as the series goes on.”

It was a baptism of fire for five of Ireland’s players as they made their international Sevens debuts in Atlanta. One of them, the 21-year-old Nicole Cronin, marked the occasion with a try against the Dutch.

Giving her reaction as the squad moves on to Brazil, she said: “I had a really enjoyable first tournament. It was good to play against some of the top teams of the world.

“It was pretty enjoyable getting my first try in the World Series too and I’m really looking forward to next weekend now.”

You can watch live coverage of Ireland’s matches in São Paulo on wsws.irb.com.



Friday, February 21 –

IRELAND v New Zealand, Arena Barueri, 2.30pm local time/5.30pm Irish time
IRELAND v England, Arena Barueri, 5.36pm local time/8.36pm Irish time
IRELAND v USA, Arena Barueri, 7.58pm local time/10.58pm Irish time

Saturday, February 22 –

Cup, Bowl and Plate competitions (2.30pm-9.34pm local time/5.30pm-12.34am Irish time)

Related Links –

In Pics: Ireland Women At Atlanta Sevens

Ireland Women Finish Twelfth In Atlanta

Familiar Opposition For Ireland Women In Brazil