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Marcoussis Title Win Keeps Ireland Men On Course

Marcoussis Title Win Keeps Ireland Men On Course

The Ireland Men’s Sevens team romped to a 49-7 Cup final win over Germany in Marcoussis to make it back-to-back titles in the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series.

Unbeaten champions in Moscow in May, Ireland completed another six-match winning run at France’s Centre National de Rugby as the IRFU Sevens Programme celebrated on the double, with both the Women’s and Men’s sides – third and first respectively – taking home medals. They won a combined 11 matches out of twelve over the weekend, scoring 67 tries and conceding 12.

The Ireland men’s latest piece of silverware came at a cost, however, as scrum half Mark Roche, who was in fine form during the team’s recent World Series invitational appearances, fractured his left leg against Portugal this morning. He had his foot and lower leg in a cast and was on crutches when he lifted the trophy alongside captain Billy Dardis at the presentation.

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Roche’s injury comes at a really bad time with the European Series continuing with the penultimate leg in Exeter next weekend, and the Rugby World Cup Sevens a fortnight later in San Francisco. But Dardis, who has been battling Roche for the starting spot, impressed in the scrum half role in Marcoussis, particularly in the semi-final and final. He also excelled with the boot, landing all twelve of his conversions across those two games.

The Marcoussis final was a repeat of the Moscow decider which saw Ireland run out 28-7 winners over Germany. With IRFU Sevens coach Stan McDowell and IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby, Anthony Eddy, watching on from the dugout, the rematch was dominated by their charges as they tore into a 28-0 lead by half-time. Shane Daly’s well-timed pass put Bryan Mollen over for the opener – and his team-leading seventh try of the weekend – after just 43 seconds.

Dardis nailed an excellent conversion from near the left touchline, and Daly and Harry McNulty’s subsequent double-hit on Anjo Buckmann which won a lineout was a further demonstration of Ireland’s intensity and accuracy. They continued to be clinical in attack too, slick hands from Daly and Dardis giving McNulty the opportunity to break a tackle and touch down midway through the first half.

Dardis again added the extras from wide on the left, and with the strong-running Hugo Keenan and Mollen prominent in the build-up, Robert Baloucoune backed himself one-on-one as he chalked up try number three in the right corner. Dardis drew over another cracking kick and also converted Daly’s closing score before the break, the Cork Constitution clubman raiding in behind the posts via John O’Donnell’s cleverly delayed pass, with Keenan also influential for his ability to beat the first man.

Replacement Greg O’Shea tidied up a dangerous bounce from the restart, scampering clear of the Irish posts and when he linked with O’Donnell, the Lansdowne clubman shrugged off a couple of defenders to open up some space and took off on a superb 80-metre charge to the whitewash, widening the margin to 35 points.

McNulty tapped down the restart to keep Ireland in control and following two neat sidesteps from Dardis, he linked with O’Shea who injected some pace and crashed over, getting the ball down despite the presence of two defenders. Ireland were moving within reach of the half-century mark but the ball just beat Mick McGrath over the end-line from an initial Dardis kick.

Germany finally got off the mark with little over a minute remaining, working numbers on the left and freeing up Carlos Soteras Merz to nip in under the posts. However, his team-mate Niklas Koch was soon sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.

From the subsequent lineout on the right touchline, Ireland stretched the overworked defence courtesy of some precise passing as replacement Adam Leavy flew up the left wing and in behind the posts, giving Dardis a simple conversion of the team’s 32nd and final try of the tournament.

McDowell’s side had scored five tries against Russia (35-0) to book their place in the final, but undoubtedly their toughest test of the tournament came in the quarter-final against Portugal. They erased a 12-point half-time deficit and eventually prevailed 17-12 thanks to a decisive extra-time try from the increasingly-influential Mollen.

Having absorbed some early pressure from semi-final opponents Russia, Ireland hit the front when Dardis’ footwork and turn of pace unlocked the defence and his pass on the switch gave O’Donnell the chance to cut in off the right wing to score close to the posts.

That third-minute converted score was followed by further good work in defence, including Baloucoune grounding the ball from a dangerous kick past the try-line, and from a length-of-the-field counter attack past the half-time hooter, Mollen took Ireland up towards halfway before McNulty burst onto a pass and evaded three defenders for a crucial second try.

14-0 became 21-0 in the tenth minute, Baloucoune and Mollen’s efforts on the left wing sparking a prolonged attacking spell in the Russian 22 and Keenan used an overlap on the right as his long pass bounced up for Mollen to score with Dardis again converting.

Replacement Foster Horan then got in on the scoring act with a classy run-in from the left wing, his sidestepping ability leaving a couple of defenders in his wake, and straight from Keenan’s well-won restart, McGrath raided over in the left corner from Dardis’ neat set-up, just seconds after being introduced off the bench. 35-0 and a clinical showing against the current European title holders.

In the previous round, Ireland’s early morning quarter-final battle with Portugal turned out to a gripping one, with the men in green struggling to get out of their own half early on. Knock-ons thwarted both sides’ progress but the breakthrough came in the fifth minute when Portugal worked some space for Tiago Fernandes and he finished well with a hand-off on Keenan.

Five points behind, Ireland were also second best at the breakdown and from one such penalty, lineout jumper David Carvalho was allowed clean through to score from the set piece. The conversion was added from the right, leaving the Pool A winners with an uphill task in the second half at 12-0 down.

McDowell’s half-time words worked a treat as Ireland closed the gap to five points within a minute-and-a-half of the restart. With replacements Roche and Baloucoune lifting the tempo, it was harder work for the Portuguese defence and McNulty’s pass out of a tackle led to O’Donnell expertly worming his way through from the left wing for a much-needed try, converted by Roche.

Ireland were back level soon after, as the restart broke for McNulty to attack through midfield and pass for Daly to finish off under pressure from a chasing defender. Roche’s conversion from the left missed the target and his tournament was over just a few minutes later, falling badly in a tackle which resulted in the stretcher being required.

Ireland had to absorb plenty of pressure in defence, McNulty setting the standard with three tackles in quick succession, and a final one from O’Donnell, out over the touchline, set up extra-time and a sudden death scenario. Ireland needed just 50 seconds as McNulty tapped down the restart, Keenan and Mollen ran hard to take it up towards the Portuguese line, and when the ball came his way on the right wing, Mollen had the power and pace to cross the whitewash despite the presence of two defenders.

Ireland’s efforts in the Marcoussis heat have move them onto 40 points in the overall series standings, four clear of Germany, their closest challengers so far, followed by Russia and England on 26 each, and Italy and France on 24 each.

The team with the most points after the four legs – the series finishes in Lodz, Poland in early September – will be crowned overall European champions, while the top three eligible finishers will advance to next year’s World Series qualifying tournament in Hong Kong.

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.

Follow the Ireland Women’s and Men’s Sevens sides this season in our exclusive behind-the-scenes series – On The Road with the Ireland 7s.

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 RESULTS – RUGBY EUROPE SEVENS GRAND PRIX SERIES: ROUND 2:

Saturday, June 30 –

Pool A:

Ireland 52 Poland 0, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Bryan Mollen 2, Robert Baloucoune, John O’Donnell, Harry McNulty, Adam Leavy, Hugo Keenan, Mark Roche; Cons: Billy Dardis 6

Team: Harry McNulty, Shane Daly, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Bryan Mollen, Robert Baloucoune.

Subs: Foster Horan, Mick McGrath, Mark Roche, Adam Leavy, Greg O’Shea.

Ireland 40 Spain 0, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Shane Daly, Adam Leavy, Billy Dardis, Robert Baloucoune, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen; Cons: Billy Dardis 3, Mark Roche 2

Team: Harry McNulty, Shane Daly, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Greg O’Shea, Adam Leavy.

Subs: Foster Horan, Mick McGrath, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Robert Baloucoune.

Ireland 21 England 14, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Mick McGrath; Cons: Billy Dardis 2, Mark Roche

Team: Harry McNulty, Shane Daly, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Bryan Mollen, Robert Baloucoune.

Subs: Foster Horan, Mick McGrath, Mark Roche, Adam Leavy, Greg O’Shea.

Day 1 Round-Up – McGrath Try Sees Ireland Men Progress As Pool Winners

Sunday, July 1 –

Cup Quarter-Final: Ireland 17 Portugal 12, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis (after extra-time)
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: John O’Donnell, Shane Daly, Bryan Mollen; Con: Mark Roche

Team: Harry McNulty, Shane Daly, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Greg O’Shea, Adam Leavy.

Subs: Foster Horan, Mick McGrath, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen, Robert Baloucoune.

Cup Semi-Final: Ireland 35 Russia 0, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: John O’Donnell, Harry McNulty, Bryan Mollen, Foster Horan, Mick McGrath; Cons: Billy Dardis 5

Team: Harry McNulty, Shane Daly, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Bryan Mollen, Robert Baloucoune.

Subs: Foster Horan, Mick McGrath, Greg O’Shea, Adam Leavy.

Cup Final: Ireland 49 Germany 7, Centre National de Rugby, Marcoussis
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Bryan Mollen, Harry McNulty, Robert Baloucoune, Shane Daly, John O’Donnell, Greg O’Shea, Adam Leavy; Cons: Billy Dardis 7

Team: Harry McNulty, Shane Daly, John O’Donnell, Billy Dardis (capt), Hugo Keenan, Bryan Mollen, Greg O’Shea.

Subs: Foster Horan, Mick McGrath, Adam Leavy, Robert Baloucoune.

The full results, pools and final placings are available on the Rugby Europe tournament page.