History will be made in San Francisco in July when the Ireland Men’s and Women’s Sevens teams compete in the same Rugby World Cup Sevens competition for the first time. Both sides qualified for the tournament last summer via the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series.
With excitement levels building, fans around the globe can now plan their Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 schedules in earnest as the team match-ups and fixtures have been announced today.
An innovative tournament format will see every match count. In both the Men’s and Women’s tournaments, which feature 24 and 16 nations respectively, teams will have to win every match in order to be crowned Rugby World Cup Sevens champions on Sunday, July 22.
The Ireland Sevens jerseys are available to buy online here from Elverys Intersport, official sports retailer of the IRFU.
The Ireland Women will be the first Irish team to grace the iconic AT&T Park in San Francisco’s Bay Area, taking on familiar foes England in the round of 16 on Friday, July 20 at 12.12pm local time/8.12pm Irish time. The winners of that game will progress to the Championship stage to play either top seeds and RWC Sevens holders New Zealand or Mexico, while the losers will compete for the Challenge Trophy.
Captain Lucy Mulhall and her team-mates come up against England regularly on the European and World Series circuits, defeating them for the first time in Langford last May – Louise Galvin and Mulhall crossed for tries in a 14-10 win – and adding two more victories in Malemort the following month (24-12 and 26-7).
England gained revenge in last July’s final European tournament in Kazan, winning 21-17, and are currently one place and three points above ninth-placed Ireland in the 2017/18 World Series standings. Any potential meeting of the teams in the series’ penultimate leg in Langford next week, and the first leg of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series in Marcoussis, will certainly have added spice.
Anthony Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens and Women’s Rugby, and IRFU Sevens coach Stan McDowell will be busy men in the coming weeks, preparing both the Men’s and Women’s squads for a jam-packed summer schedule of tournaments leading up to the World Cup.
Despite the recent disappointment of missing out on qualification for next season’s World Series in Hong Kong, the Ireland Men will get their first taste of top tier action as an invitational team at the London Sevens tournament on June 2-3, when they join Australia, Spain and Wales in Pool B.
It will be ideal preparation for the Rugby World Cup Sevens where they have been paired with Chile in the pre-round of 16. That opening game in San Francisco will take place on Friday, July 20 at 3.35pm local time/11.35pm Irish time.
Like Ireland, Chile were knocked out of last month’s World Series qualifiers at the semi-final stage. Ireland played the Chileans at the Oktoberfest 7s earlier in the season, recording a 24-7 victory with Ian Fitzpatrick, Harry McNulty, Hugo Keenan and Alex McHenry sharing out the tries.
The winners of Ireland v Chile at AT&T Park will meet South Africa, the top seeds and last year’s World Series champions, in Friday night’s round of 16 at 9.15pm local time/3.15am Irish time. The losers of the Ireland-Chile clash will drop down to the eight-team Bowl competition.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The release of the match schedule marks another exciting step on the journey to the highly anticipated Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco. Fans can now begin to plan their tournaments and teams can focus on their prospective opponents.
“There has never been a more competitive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series than this year’s edition, with five different winners in the first five rounds in the Men’s series, and only 16 points separating the top four nations in the Women’s series. We are all set for a great showcase of the drama and excitement of Sevens at the first Rugby World Cup event ever to be held in the USA.”
Host city San Francisco is making excellent progress towards staging the first Rugby World Cup of any description ever in the USA, and strong ticket sales have boosted expectations of an electrifying atmosphere inside the famous Baseball stadium that usually home to the San Francisco Giants.
Ticket sales have already surpassed 60,000 and fans can either purchase three-day passes (there is also a ticket exchange mechanism) or via the official domestic and international supporter tour programmes. Single day tickets are due to go on sale from next Monday (May 7). Ticket information can be found at www.rwcsevens.com/tickets.