Ireland Women’s Sevens head coach Jon Skurr believes the experience of playing the likes of New Zealand and England in Atlanta will stand to his young and inexperienced squad as the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series progresses.
It is destination ‘São Paulo, Brazil’ for the world’s top Women’s Sevens teams this week, as they head to the the first IRB Sevens Series event to take place in the host country for the 2016 Olympic Games.
With two very different squads Ireland have had 11th and 12th place finishes in Dubai and Atlanta respectively, and the girls in green have drawn both New Zealand and England again in the pool stages for São Paulo.
Another difficult task for the coaches and players will be managing the ‘short turnaround’ between the second and third legs, as Jon Skurr explains.
“The turnaround between tournaments is very tight – we play again on Friday so we travelled overnight (from Atlanta) and will get three more light sessions in before we play again on Friday,” said the Irish head coach.
“I think the short turnaround is going to be an issue for all the teams. A Sevens tournament takes a lot more out of the body than one game of 15s and to play another tournament five days later is going to be a real challenge.
“We will monitor the players closely over the next 48 hours as there are a few who are feeling the effects of playing a significant amount of game-time this weekend.”
Despite losing four of their five games in Atlanta, Skurr is confident that the more game-time his players get at this level the better and more competitive they will become as a team.
“It was a massive learning curve for all the players (last week). The key point is that during day one we steadily improved and peaked with an impressive win against a Dutch team who have been full-time for nearly two years,” he highlighted, referring to a hard-fought 12-10 pool victory over the Netherlands.
“A number of the new caps performed well over the weekend and I was impressed by the fight and spirit of the whole squad.”
Skurr’s charges went into the second day with high hopes of competing well in the Bowl competition, however a 26-7 loss to China was an early setback and they were unable to overcome Brazil in their final outing.
“We ran out of energy on day two and that became obvious against the Chinese side who looked fresher and more composed.
“We are a young, inexperienced side who will grow the more we play together and I know that we will see significant progression before the end of the season.
“Ultimately we have to take massive positives out of the experience (in Atlanta) and we have to learn quickly if we want to compete at this level.”
Skurr, whose side will face Atlanta winners New Zealand in the opening match of the Brazil Sevens, added: “From a performance side of things, it’s about addressing our areas of weakness and identifying how we will attack the teams that we will be playing in São Paulo.”
Jon and players Niamh Ni Dhroma and Claire Keohane were interviewed for a feature on Monday’s ‘Against The Head’ programme on RTÉ Two. You can view the piece here.
You can watch live coverage of Ireland’s matches in São Paulo on wsws.irb.com.
IRB WOMEN’S SEVENS WORLD SERIES – THIRD LEG:
BRAZIL SEVENS – POOL A FIXTURES:
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)