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Ireland Men Miss Out On Rio But Show Promise For Future

Ireland Men Miss Out On Rio But Show Promise For Future

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team suffered two five-point defeats to highly-experienced Spain and Canada, as their bid to qualify for the Olympics came to an end on day two of the World Rugby Sevens Repechage tournament in Monaco.

Ireland, who topped their pool yesterday with three wins, were knocked out of contention for Rio by a 12-7 loss to Spain in the Cup quarter-finals this morning.

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Anthony Eddy’s side took the lead in sunny conditions with a converted try from captain Tom Daly, but the more experienced Spanish outfit triumphed thanks to scores from Matias Tudela Perret and Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez.

Powerfully-built Canada also proved too strong in the 5th place semi-final, running in four tries to Ireland’s three. Shane Layden, Mick McGrath and Daly all touched down in the 24-19 reversal.

This was a big step up for Ireland who have only been playing Sevens tournaments together since last summer when they won Rugby Europe Divisions B and C and finished third in the Rugby Europe Olympic Repechage.

They came to Monaco after winning the Rugby Europe Men’s Sevens Trophy leg in Malmo last week, and could secure promotion to the European Sevens Grand Prix Series for 2017 via the second leg of the Trophy in Prague (July 2-3).

The 12-man squad that competed in this weekend’s Global Olympic Repechage has an average age of 23 – with nine players aged between 21 and 23 – and judging by their displays in Monaco, new additions Mick McGrath and Josh Rowland have also fitted right in.

So there is plenty for Anthony Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby, and fellow coach Stan McDowell to build on as Ireland continue their rise through the European Sevens ranks and chase qualification for the World Series.

GLOBAL OLYMPIC SEVENS QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT:

IRELAND 7 SPAIN 12, Stade Louis II
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Tom Daly; Con: Billy Dardis
Spain: Tries: Matias Tudela Perret, Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez; Con: Francisco Hernandez Jimenez

 
Eventual Cup champions Spain ended Ireland’s Olympic hopes in a tight and tense quarter-final encounter played in the warm Monaco sunshine.
 
Ireland used an early Spanish knock on to build for the opening try. There were thre minutes on the clock when captain Tom Daly reached over just to the left of the posts after Barry Daly and Alex Wootton had both threatened out wide.
 
Billy Dardis converted for a 7-0 lead, but this streetwise Spaniards, with a good deal of World Series experience behind them, replied by the fifth minute, breaking up the right wing and despite a covering tackle from Ian Fitzpatrick, Matias Rudela Perret managed to dive over in the corner from a close range ruck.
 
Both sides had attacking opportunities coming to half-time. Dardis made a nice midfield break and Spain were forced to infringe at the breakdown, while Ignacio Martin’s grubber through beat him into touch at the other end of the pitch.
 
On day 1 Ireland had used well-placed restarts and lineouts as solid platforms to build pressure, but Spain’s strong set piece work disrupted the Irish rhythm.
 
Alex Wootton reacted sharply to bundle his opposing winger into touch, early in the second period, and Irish counter-rucking broke up a subsequent Spanish attack.
 
The lineout proved problematic for Ireland again when Spain secured turnover ball and broke through for a crucial 10th minute try. Jose Luiz Lopez Vazquez stepped on the gas in midfield and although he was tap-tackled, he got up quickly to score from a few metres out.
 
Francisco Hernandez Jimenez added the extras and Spain went close to a third try, their veteran playmaker Pablo Feijoo just knocking on after a neat offload near the left corner.
 
With time running out for Ireland, they scrambled to attack from deep with Adam Byrne, Josh Rowland and Mick McGrath all brought on off the bench. Despite a promising run from Wootton over halfway, a harsh refereeing decision at the breakdown handed possession back to Spain who held on for a hard-fought victory.
 
IRELAND: Harry McNulty, Dan Goggin, Ian Fitzpatrick, Tom Daly (capt), Barry Daly, Alex Wootton, Billy Dardis.
 
Subs: Adam Byrne, Shane Layden, Steve Toal-Lennon, Mick McGrath, Josh Rowland.

5TH PLACE SEMI-FINAL:

IRELAND 19 CANADA 24, Stade Louis II
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Shane Layden, Mick McGrath, Tom Daly; Cons: Steve Toal-Lennon, Billy Dardis
Canada: Tries: Mike Fuailefau, Ciaran Hearn, Phil Berna, Phil Mack; Cons: Phil Mack 2

Both Ireland and Canada still had fifth place to aim for after losing their respective Cup quarter-finals, and the Canadians seized the early initiative to break into a 14-0 lead.

Adam Zaruba, who became a recent social media sensation for his one-handed catch and try at the Paris 7s, proved a hard man to put down, his forceful running leading to Alex Wootton going off for a head injury assessment.

Mike Fuailefau ran onto Phil Berna’s inviting offload to open the scoring with just over a minute on the clock. Phil Mack converted and he also added the extras to Ciaran Hearn’s breakaway effort which saw him spin away from Harry McNulty and race clear.
 
Ireland had looked dangerous when Steve Toal-Lennon surged downfield but he lacked support. Two typically powerful bursts up the left wing from Mick McGrath, who replaced Wootton, got the men in green firing again and space was created on the right for Toal-Lennon to put Shane Layden away in the corner.

14-5 is how it stayed up to half-time, Ireland showing great resilience in defence as skipper Tom Daly’s try-saving tackle stopped big John Moonlight in his tracks and a relieving penalty was then won.

The start of the second half was all Ireland as improved work at the breakdown won a penalty in the Canadian 22 and McGrath took a terrific angle off Toal-Lennon’s tap to charge onto the pass and dash in underneath the posts for his fourth try of the weekend. Toal-Lennon converted for 14-12.

A slight knock on by McNulty at the restart denied him a chance to run for the try-line, yet the strong-running Zaruba wrestled back control for Canada with a big charge out of his own half. The ball was moved wide to the right where an overlap put Phil Berna over.

Although McGrath then recovered well to haul down Zaruba just short of the Irish line, Daly was adjudged to have infringed at the resulting ruck and a quick tap saw Phil Mack touch down and convert for a 24-12 scoreline.

However, Ireland continued to show how competitive they can be against a World Series core team like Canada when McGrath made another solid charge up the left wing, providing the momentum for a late attack and Tom Daly used a nice hand-off to run in his third try in Monaco.
 
IRELAND: Harry McNulty, Adam Byrne, Shane Layden, Tom Daly (capt), Steve Toal-Lennon, Alex Wootton, Josh Rowland.
 
Subs: Barry Daly, Dan Goggin, Mick McGrath, Ian Fitzpatrick, Billy Dardis.

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (Global Olympic Sevens Qualifying Tournament, Stade Louis II, Monaco, Saturday, June 18-Sunday, June 19):

Adam Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt)
Barry Daly (UCD)
Billy Dardis (UCD/Leinster)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster)
Shane Layden (Buccaneers)
Mick McGrath (Clontarf)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Josh Rowland (Ireland Sevens)
Steve Toal-Lennon (St. Mary’s College)
Alex Wootton (Garryowen/Munster)

IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS – POOLS & MATCH RESULTS:

Pool A – Samoa, Zimbabwe, Tonga, IRELAND
Pool B – Canada, Germany, Uruguay, Sri Lanka
Pool C – Russia, Chile, Morocco, Tunisia
Pool D – Hong Kong, Spain, Mexico, South Korea

World Rugby Olympic Repechage – Full Results/Fixtures/Tables

Saturday, June 18 –

Zimbabwe 12 Ireland 24, Stade Louis II
Samoa 21 Ireland 27, Stade Louis II
Tonga 12 Ireland 31, Stade Louis II

Sunday, June 19 –

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland 7 Spain 12, Stade Louis II

5th Place Semi-Final: Ireland 19 Canada 24, Stade Louis II