The Ireland Men’s Sevens management have confirmed the 12-man squad for the second round of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series, which takes place in Marcoussis, France on Saturday and Sunday.
The tournament at France’s Centre National de Rugby is the first of back-to-back legs on the European Grand Prix Series, with the third round taking place in Exeter next weekend (July 7-8).
Ireland were the winners of the first round of this summer’s series, taking home the title in Moscow last month. They are drawn in Pool A for Marcoussis alongside familiar rivals England, Poland and Spain. Captained by Billy Dardis, they return to French soil off the back of a successful run as an invitational at the final two rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London and Paris at the beginning of this month.
11 of the 12 players selected for this weekend were involved across those two rounds where Ireland claimed the bronze medal in London and another top-eight finish in Paris. Mick McGrath is set for his first appearance of the season, as the strong-running Clontarf winger has recovered from the knee injury he suffered during last year’s Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series.
UCD clubman Dardis is joined by his club-mates Hugo Keenan and Harry McNulty, who set to win his 15th Ireland Sevens cap in Marcoussis. There are three Lansdowne players involved – Foster Horan, Adam Leavy and John O’Donnell.
Enniskillen speedster Robert Baloucone is selected for the trip as are Cork Constitution’s Shane Daly, Dublin University’s Bryan Mollen and Greg O’Shea from Shannon. Mark Roche, who finished the two World Series tournaments with 38 points (two tries and 14 conversions) completes the squad.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, which will be streamed live on www.rugbyeurope.tv, IRFU Sevens coach Stan McDowell said: “The two World Series events were a great experience for all involved and I know the players learnt a lot over those two weekends. However, the focus quickly switched back to the Grand Prix and these two important legs in Marcoussis and Exeter.
“Things got off to a good start in Moscow last month, and now it’s vital that we keep up the standard of performances over the next two weeks so that we are in a good position on the overall standings before the Sevens Rugby World Cup in San Francisco and the fourth and final leg in Poland come September.”
The Ireland Men’s and Women’s Sevens teams will both compete at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco over the weekend of July 20-22 at AT&T Park. RWC Sevens tickets are available here.
The Ireland Sevens jerseys are available to buy online here from Elverys Intersport, official sports retailer of the IRFU.
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS Squad (2018 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series – Round 2, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis, France, Saturday, June 30-Sunday, July 1):
Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen/Ulster)
Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Billy Dardis (UCD) (capt)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne)
Mick McGrath (Clontarf)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Bryan Mollen (Dublin University)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
Mark Roche (Blackrock College)
IRELAND MEN’S SEVENS FIXTURES – RUGBY EUROPE SEVENS GRAND PRIX SERIES: ROUND 2:
Saturday, June 30 –
Ireland v Poland, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis, 9am local time/8am Irish time
Ireland v Spain, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis, 1.44pm local time/12.44pm Irish time
Ireland v England, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis, 6.28pm local time/5.28pm Irish time
Sunday, July 1 –
The full fixtures and pools are available on the Rugby Europe tournament page.