The Ireland Men’s Sevens management have confirmed a 12-man squad to travel to Moscow this weekend for the opening round of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series.
This will be Ireland’s Grand Prix Series debut, following on from last year’s European Trophy title win, and the competition gives them the chance to qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco next summer.
The Grand Prix Series offers two places to nations outside of those who are already pre-qualified from the 2013 Moscow World Cup or via this season’s World Sevens Series. The European sides who have already qualified are England, Wales, France and Scotland.
Russia are the only European team in the Series who are outside of automatic qualification, so they, along with the likes of Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Georgia, look set to be Ireland’s main competition for the top two places.
Billy Dardis will captain the 12-man squad in Russia and he is joined by UCD team-mates Hugo Keenan, Jimmy O’Brien and Harry McNulty in the travelling party. Keenan and O’Brien both played at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester this time last season along with St. Mary’s speedster Terry Kennedy.
Lansdowne provide three of the players with Ian Fitzpatrick, John O’Donnell, who scored nine tries at last week’s Amsterdam 7s tournament, and Mark Roche included.
Buccaneers’ Jordan Conroy, who was recently named Ulster Bank League Division 1B’s Player of the Year having scored 19 tries this season, will be hoping to make his mark in Moscow as will fellow winger Mick McGrath, who was top try scorer in Division 1A in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Fionn Carr, who holds the record for most tries with Connacht, is also included with Queen’s University and Ulster back rower Nick Timoney completing the squad.
Ireland have been drawn in Pool A for the opening round in Moscow, which will be live-streamed on www.rugbyeurope.tv. Georgia, Germany and Wales provide the opposition on the first day at Oktyabr Stadium.
Speaking ahead of the squad’s departure for Russia, the IRFU’s Director of Rugby Sevens, Anthony Eddy, said: “The players involved in the programme this season have been working hard in training over the past number of weeks in build up to the Grand Prix Series.
“They’ve competed against some strong opposition at the likes of the Dublin 7s and Amsterdam 7s as part of preparation for the Series and I know they’re looking forward to getting out there and playing this weekend.
“We’re in a tough pool for the opening round, with Wales performing well on the World Sevens Series this season, while Germany have a strong Sevens programme in place and Georgia are always a strong and physical side, so it will be important that the players are focused throughout each game as we look to get things off to a good start.”
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2017 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series – Round 1, Oktyabr Stadium, Moscow, Russia, Saturday, June 3-Sunday, June 4):
Fionn Carr (Naas)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Billy Dardis (UCD) (capt)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Mick McGrath (Clontarf)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)
Mark Roche (Lansdowne)
Nick Timoney (Queen’s University/Ulster)
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Fixtures –
Moscow 7s – Pool A:
Saturday, June 3:
Wales v Ireland, Oktyabr Stadium, 10am local time/8am Irish time
Germany v Ireland, Oktyabr Stadium, 1.07pm local time/11.07am Irish time
Georgia v Ireland, Oktyabr Stadium, 3.52pm local time/1.52pm Irish time
Sunday, June 4:
The full fixtures/pools are available on the Rugby Europe tournament page. Live streaming of the matches will be on www.rugbyeurope.tv. For information on the RWC Sevens qualification process, click here.