The Ireland Men’s Sevens squad to compete at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco has been confirmed by Anthony Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby.
The Rugby World Cup Sevens features the world’s top 24 Men’s and 16 Women’s teams and will be played on July 20-22 at AT&T Park in San Francisco’s Bay Area. The tournament format is a knock-out style draw, meaning teams will have to win every match in order to be crowned World Cup winners.
The opening round is an initial knock-out qualifier featuring the nations ranked ninth to 24th, while the top eight seeds progress automatically to the round of 16. Ireland were ranked 16th and will face Chile in their opening fixture, with the winners going on to face World Series champions South Africa in the last 16, while the losers will move into the Bowl quarter-finals.
The IRFU Men’s Sevens Programme has shown great progress over the past number of seasons. They entered the lowest tier of Rugby Europe in 2015, and have made their way up the levels to reach the Grand Prix Series last season where their top-three finish saw them qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, as well as the World Series qualifying tournament in Hong Kong, which took place in April. Ireland narrowly lost out in the semi-finals to eventual winners Japan.
The Irish side were also invited to compete at the final two legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London and Paris. They left London with a bronze medal, a first for an invitational team on the series and finished in the top-eight in Paris.
All of the players selected in the 13-man World Cup squad gained experience on the series this season, and have also helped Ireland to win the opening two rounds of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series in Moscow and Marcoussis, while they picked up the bronze medal yesterday in Exeter and have already booked their place at next April’s World Series qualifier in Hong Kong.
The San Francisco-bound squad is captained by Billy Dardis who is joined by UCD club-mates Hugo Keenan, Harry McNulty and Jimmy O’Brien. There are three Lansdowne players included – Ian Fitzpatrick, Foster Horan and John O’Donnell.
Buccaneers’ flying winger Jordan Conroy scored 11 tries in 10 appearances across the London and Paris 7s recently, and St. Mary’s College speedster Terry Kennedy has notched 16 tries in two Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series tournaments so far this summer.
Shannon’s Greg O’Shea, who has switched to the scrum half role with Mark Roche (fractured leg) sidelined, is named in the Ireland World Cup panel as is powerful Cork Constitution and Munster back Shane Daly. Enniskillen’s Robert Baloucoune and Dublin University’s Bryan Mollen complete the squad.
Anthony Eddy, IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby, said of the selection: “The entire squad have worked extremely hard and demonstrated a huge level of commitment to the programme, and selection for this World Cup squad has been extremely competitive.
“It has been nine years since there’s been an Irish Men’s team at the Rugby World Cup Sevens, and the players are really excited for the challenge that lies ahead and are keen to demonstrate the progress they have made over the last number of seasons.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity and the players are looking forward to representing their country and putting in performances that demonstrate the commitment they have made to the success of the programme.”
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 World Cup Sevens, AT&T Park, San Francisco, USA, Friday, July 20-Sunday, July 22):
Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen/Ballymena/Ulster)
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers)
Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Billy Dardis (UCD) (capt)
Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne)
Foster Horan (Lansdowne)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College)
Harry McNulty (UCD)
Bryan Mollen (Dublin University)
Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster)
John O’Donnell (Lansdowne)
Greg O’Shea (Shannon)
IRELAND MEN’S RWC SEVENS Fixtures –
Friday, July 20:
Pre-Round of 16: Ireland v Chile, AT&T Park, San Francisco, 3.35pm local time/11.35pm Irish time
Saturday, July 21:
Sunday, July 22:
More details on the Rugby World Cup Sevens are available here. Tickets are available to purchase here via the tournament website. There are single-day tickets in all seating categories and three-day tickets.